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Genre – World Cinema > Crime
Run Time –131 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – Belgium
Awards – 3 Wins & 5 Nominations
Amazon – £6.00 DVD £6.49 Blue Ray
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It seems pedophilia is always in the news these days with the internet and social media vomiting up more and more of these people and their actions, be it historical cases in show business or the political establishment or current school teachers and priests. Kids clearly were abused by famous people back in the day but it’s equally sure some people enjoy making accusations for attention, cash or reasons around their own sexuality. Calling Cliff Richard a child abuser just because he looks gay is pretty lazy. What we do know for sure about these people is they find careers where they can get access to children, and countries like Belgium (the subject matter here) and Austria seem to have more than their fair share of the nasty ones with many recent famous cases in the news. In one case the Belgium police appeared to help one or two escape from prison, Mark Dutroux the most notorious.
Geert Van Rampelberg ... Nick Cafmeyer
Roy Aernouts ... Bjorn Cafmeyer
Ina Geerts ... Danni Petit
Johan van Assche ... Ivan Plettinckx
Laura Verlinden ... Steffi Vankerkhove
Dominique Van Malder ... Roland Claeren
Roel Swanenberg ... Hans Vankerkhove (as Roel Swaenenberg)
Kyan Steverlynck ... Joff Vankerkhove
Ingrid De Vos ... Nancy Lammers
Michael Vergauwen ... Chris Gommaer
Circé Lethem ... Iris Kryotos (as Circe Lethem)
Brit Van Hoof ... Cindy Simons
Tibo Vandenborre ... Alex Simons
Stan Puynen ... Robin Simons
Jan Hammenecker ... Inspecteur Verbraeke
Handsome and highly strung detective Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) of the Antwerp police is working on a case of sexual abuse, one making him more anxious than usual as it mirrors the disappearance of his 9-year-old brother Bjorn (Roy Aernouts), snatched when the two were playing at the railway and never seen again. But the detective is not only taunted by his childhood loss but by Ivan Plettinckx (Johan van Assche), a local pedophile who was number one suspect for his kid brother’s disappearance back in the day and lives now close by and takes fiendish pleasure in harassing Nick for persecuting him. It was never proved and the case quietly dropped against Plettinckx. But when the pedophile kills himself through hate and self guilt for the man he is, he leaves behind information in his house that may help the detective in his current investigation.
His female boss, Inspector Danni Petit (Ina Geerts), wants him to get a grip and separate the two crimes but Cafmeyer sensing there is a connection. They have no other suspects and when another 9-year-old kid turns up dead with a bite in his neck hidden high up in a tree its clear it’s likely this particular killer will kill again. They discover he has a sick way of getting at his victims that involves drugging the family in the home and so terrible things thereafter. Nick heads a massive search which turns into a relentless manhunt as more and more local kid’s talk of the Troll kid snatcher.
So it’s not Scando crime but as good as, Belgium having its fair share of moody good looking singleton cops and cliché psycho pedophiles. And the pedo’s on show are cliché, of course, the slobbering unlikable loners with demented moms and big bellies and tattoos you get in all of these movies. In reality pedos can be any social class and the more respectable looking and personable they are the more likely they are to get access to children. But TV and movies always show them as vermin weirdo’s to get the audience onside early on so there is never nay doubt who is the bad guy to contrast with the handsome flawed cop.
Its wobbly camera stuff with foreboding music as the tense hunt unfolds. Its not one for big twists but there are clues to be picked up on. The actual reveal on why the pedophile does what it does in the film is a bit over the top as is the kids talking about Trolls. But you need to inject that fear to keep the films moving forward because you know they will get their man/woman. It’s intelligent in its approach but follows familiar lines to reassure the viewer on the lines drawn. Pedophilia is a disease that produces desire and not something anyone chooses to be.
Acting is good although Cafmeyer a bit too hunky in the lead with his five-o’clock shadow and vulnerabilities that no doubt have the women melting for him watching on. There are early clues on who the bad people are and you are surprised when they are indeed the bad people, a kind of double dupe.
Music is very good and the locations suitably suburban and not that very Belgium, Europe’s most nondescript country, they say. But I was wrapped up in it from the start and the tone set at the right time and pace. Subtitles are not too much of a hassle as the camera is mostly the cops strained emotional behaviors and shifty salivating pedophiles on the very edges of society. But gloomy Northern European cinema does this stuff well and I would recommend this one.
Imdb.com –7.2 /10.0 (5,124votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 92% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 72%critic’s approval
Behind the scenes
Radio Times –‘A bleak, uncompromising look into the brutal death of innocence’.
The Guardian –‘It is claustrophobic and disquieting, put over with gruesome conviction’.
Little White Lies –‘a film about acts utterly unconscionable, even unimaginable, which Herbots expertly outlines without ever drifting into over explicitness or sensationalist excess. In place of shock, we get shame’.
Irish Times –‘The Treatment is relentlessly sad in tone, utterly vile in content, and brilliantly effective in delivery’.
Observer –‘Horribly convincing performances add exploitative heft, while Johan Van Essche's production design makes the Boschian hell seem all too real’.
Film School Rejects –‘It's a slow-burn that holds the attention through growing suspense and the promise of devastating reveals’.
Minneapolis –‘Aside from a few annoying implausibilities, "The Treatment" is smart suspense at its darkest’.
Daily Telegraph –‘The subject matter could have been exploitative or cheapened in the wrong hands. But Herbots deftly weaves an intricate, if somewhat baggy, tale’.
Star – Ronaldo, of course…!
Genre – Sports Biopic
Run Time –132 minutes
Certificate – PG 13
Country – British
Amazon – £5.99 DVD (£8.99Blue Ray)
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I think it’s fair to say that Cristiano Ronaldo (born Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro) loves himself and if the producers of the rather excellent ‘Senna’ movie offer to make a vacuous film about him and Universal Pictures want to pick up the tab then why not? Ronaldo is the most followed celebrity in the world with 108 million likes on his Facebook page, 36 million on Instagram, and more than 38 million followers on Twitter, and that’s the sort of thing media corporations love, big enough numbers for Universal to syndicate this film around the world in 27 different languages. It’s definitely a film made for fans. This is not a revealing documentary.
Filmed over 14 months between January 2014 and March 2015, it offers to present ‘unprecedented access’ into the inner circle of the man and the sport, and the first official and fully authorized film of Ronaldo - but on his terms. The film blurb reminds us that ‘for the first time ever, the world gets vividly candid and un-paralleled, behind-closed-doors access to the footballer, father, family-man and friends in this moving & fascinating documentary, seen through in-depth conversations with those close - and loyal - family and friends’. Hummmm…
There is state of the art football footage and some brand new archival to enjoy, as you would expect, the film, as you would also expect, giving a bland and controlled insight into the sporting and personal life of the double Ballon d'or winner (2008 & 2013). Because we don’t get to see anything of how the big sports stars live, just a peep behind the curtain can be fascinating though. I recall the American owners of Liverpool football club sanctioned something similar on the club in 2013, and as basic and two dimensional the program makers were told to edit it, the film was surprisingly interesting and eye-opening. Who will ever forget the huge self portrait of Brendan Rogers staring down at Brendan Rogers in his front room. Yes, Ronaldo has lots of those to and his own statue in his hometown to go with to trump Rogers. In fact the secret of super stardom is knowing so little about them. If Ronaldo wins the World Cup he will have done it all in football and so certainly worth this documentary.
Cristiano Ronaldo ... Himself
Dolores Aveiro ... Mom
Hugo Aveiro ... Dad
Carla Mendes ... Herself
Jorge Mendes ... Ronaldo’s super agent
Lionel Messi ... Himself
David Morrissey ... Dramatic VO (voice)
Georgie Bingham ... English Sports Presenter 1 (voice)
Adrian Clarke ... English Sports Presenter 2 (voice)
Rio Ferdinand ... Himself
ClÁudia Garcia ... Herself
David Álvarez Izquierdo ... Spanish Sports Presenter 1 (voice)
Rhiannon Jones ... Spanish Sports Presenter 2 (voice)
Nelvino Lima ... Portuguese Sports Presenter (voice)
Miguel Lopes Marques ... Himself
Rafael Navarrete MartÍnez ... Himself
Miguel PaixÃo ... Himself
Florentino Pérez ... Himself
Ricardo Regufe ... Himself
José Semedo ... Himself
Mike Sewell ... English Sports Commentator 1 (voice
Career – 681 Appearances and 491 goals
United – 192 Appearances and 118 goals
Madrid – 355 Appearances and 355 League goals
Portugal – 135 Appearances and 66 goals.
Hatricks – 40
Most goals in a calendar year – 95
Scored 40 goals a domestic season 4 times.
• Premier League: 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09
• FA Cup: 2003–04
• Football League Cup: 2005–06, 2008–09
• FA Community Shield: 2007
• UEFA Champions League: 2007–08
• FIFA Club World Cup: 2008
• La Liga: 2011–12
• Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14
• Supercopa de España: 2012
• UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16
• UEFA Super Cup: 2014
• FIFA Club World Cup: 2014
Captain Portugal to European Championships
We begin with Ronaldo playing in the ‘El Classico’ with his big rival Lionel Messi. and scoring amazing goals and lots of vain slow motion close ups to, uniquely shot on Imax cameras. The two are seen together later on in the film back stage for the Balloon De Or but that’s about all we see of his nemesis. He does not want to be upstaged by anyone. This is the Ronaldo show.
We go behind the scenes in Ronaldo’s impressive houses and museums and see a lot of his mom Dolores Aveiro and his playful young son Christiano Junior. What we don’t see is anything of the mother of that child (who remains unknown), who the little one was told is dead, and of Irina Shayk, the then girlfriend of Cristiano Ronaldo from 2010-2014. The makers said that Irina was cut from the documentary because the film is only 92 minutes long? It’s believed the boy came from a surrogate woman. Again we don’t want to be distracted from the monomaniac narrative. His mom appears very protective of him in the film, aso do the family, and we also meet his brother Ramiz, who has the honor of running Ronaldo’s personal museum of his life and football memorabilia. Everyone in the family is working for the good of Ronaldo although his father Hugo died in 2005 and so we only see archive footage of him. Ronaldo admitted his father ‘always drank’ and I’m guessing if he was still alive today he too would be erased from the film for not being up to scratch.
The football and family archive footage is decent stuff and gives the film some sort of depth we can explore. A lot of the film is those adoring fans and fancy soirées around match footage and that personal time and we also glimpse Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s super agent, a guy who bagged $20 million dollars from Christiano’s world record move from United to Madrid and negotiated Jose Moronhio a five million dollar ‘retainer’ with Manchester United after he left Chelsea to make sure he didn’t sign with anyone else during that 6 month gap. I think he also earned of Pogba’s move to United. If United wanted to see Ronaldo and Madrid wanted to buy him then why did he need an agent? The answer, of course, is a lot of that $20 money is ‘shared out’ to all sorts.
A lot of the film is Ronaldo creating scenes were he appears domestic and just like you and me as he takes his kid to school and plays with CJ at home. But you guess he rarely drives his kid to school and a bustling team of child minders, cooks and maids taking care of his every need off camera. I can’t see him changing nappies if I am honest. It’s almost like watching a Pharo in ancient Egypt in his pyramid surrounded by gold and exclusivity. Apart from the shots of Ronaldo alone with his kids, no beautiful women and the revelation that it’s all about the ballon de or, there is not much else going on here. It’s all about access with the A-List and they only feed you what they want to feed you to retain that status. Michael Caine openly admitted he would not take movies that threatened that status, regardless of the paycheck. Ronaldo is not about to drop a consonant in the fame alphabet with a warts an all expose.
I think hagiography (the making of a saint) is the best way to describe this vanity project. Because soccer players are so cosseted and protected from the outside world any sort of documentary on them is interesting though. There is no mention of his tax avoidance or rumors of homosexuality, of course, and little emotional content. He is believed to be dating a Moroccan UFC fighter which he allegedly flies over to see in the week but the story buried at birth. Photos of him and ‘Badr Hari ‘seem to show some level of intimacy although to be fair I think he is a rare case of a footballer able to ‘come out’ and keep his admiration levels. I recall he was accused of rape in his early days at Manchester United but nothing came of it, almost as if his people want to let you know he was a red blooded heterosexual – that wears pink nail varnish and has his eyebrows plucked. Gay men can be narcissistic and this film at least fits that part of the puzzle.
What is interesting here is Ronaldo sees the ‘Balloon De Or’ as the ‘be all and end all’ of his football career and would rather win those than the Champions League. He quite simply wants to be the best in the world and trophies and great goals simply the method and red carpet to get him there. Goals and personal glory are more important than team mates to Ronaldo it seems. But it’s easy to do that in the Spanish League and why Messi and Ron clean up, Athletico Madrid the only other team that gets within 20 points of them. 30 hatricks in La Liga is bloody impressive though. We also learnt that the taking off Cristiano Ronaldo’s jersey to celebrate his goal in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final was done for the documentary.
It’s not s terrible as the 17% Rottentomatos awarded it and you have to judge this by what’s not seen in the film and read into the body language and the relationships on screen to try and fill the huge gaps. I can’t say I like Ronaldo as a bloke but he is a mighty footballer, pace, strength, tricks and just about everything else. If he passed the bloody thing he would be truly great. This film is not great but its not as terrible as it should be, considering…
Imdb.com – 6.4/10.0 (10,465votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 17% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 23% critic’s approval
The Independent –‘This is probably the most insightful film about the life of a footballer off the pitch since Vikash Dhorasoo's Substitute’.
The Times –‘A grossly uncritical slice of hagiography’..
The International Times –‘A complete waste of time unless you are a diehard fan of Cristiano Ronaldo’.
The Guardian –‘This is for fans only’.
Radio Times –‘As much an exercise in showcasing conspicuous wealth as an insight into the man and his achievements, this is a vulgar vanity project that massively misses a unique opportunity.’
Star – Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac
Genre – Crime
Run Time – 125 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – USA
Amazon – £ DVD £ Blue Ray
Awards – 14 Wins & 45 Nominations
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So post 1990 we haven’t had much Italian American mobster movie action of note, and if we do, it’s understated and tributary stuff rather than the sprawling all out cliché and body count stuff. It’s like we are not ever going back there. The Drop, a rather nostalgic post noir with the ubiquitous Tom Hardy and the now deceased James Gandolfini, was a good signpost to that retirement of the typical Hollywood Mafia character cliché as the two goons festered in the bar for most of that particular film. In real life the East Coast mafia has mostly been locked up and I suppose no point going back there anyway.
A Most Violent Year is another Scorcesesque tribute that flirts with those great mob movies of the 90s but doesn’t want to go there. But we want them to go there and that’s the problem. The cast is strong with little known and the impressive Oscar Isaac in the lead as the nefarious guy determined to run his business legitimately in an industry run by the mob and the unions. The always excellent Jessica Chastain is alongside as his wife and Golden Globe nominated for her efforts here. In fact this film contains three actors nominated for Academy Awards in the past: Catalina Sandino Moreno (Best Actress, 2004), Albert Brooks (Best Supporting Actor, 1987), and Jessica Chastain (Best Supporting Actress, 2011, and Best Actress, 2012).
• Oscar Isaac….. as Abel Morales
• Jessica Chastain…..as Anna Morales
• Alessandro Nivola…..as Peter Forente
• David Oyelowo….as Lawrence
• Albert Brooks…..as Andrew Walsh
• Catalina Sandino Moreno…..as Luisa
• Ashley Williams….as Lange
• Elyes Gabel….as Julian
• Jerry Adler….as Josef
• Christopher Abbott…. as Louis Servidio
• Elizabeth Marvel…..as Mrs. Rose
• Peter Gerety….. as Bill O'Leary
• Glenn Fleshler…. as Arnold Klein
• David Margulies…. as Saul Lefkowitz
• Annie Funke…. as Lorraine Lefkowitz
• Matthew Maher….. as John Dominczyk
• Jason Ralph…..as Ian Thompson
‘When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can't do’.
Its 1981 in New York and the suave Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) runs the successful Standard Heating Oil Co, based down by the Staten Island docks. Recently the company has been undermined by the hijacking of its trucks, each carrying thousands of dollars in heating oil, siphoned off and sold to rivals by local goons. The cops don’t want to know as they know his company is involved in a corrupt industry and Assistant District Attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo) determined to expose price fixing, tax evasion, and various other illegalities committed by Morales and his competitors in the heating business.
It gets serious for Abel when one of his young drivers, Julian (Elyes Gabel), is severely beaten by two thugs when his oil truck is ‘boosted ‘at the turnpike toll. Abel doesn’t want to use his rival’s methods to protect trucks, normally armed teamster thugs on board, not the tit-for-tat road he wants to take. Abel's wife, Anna Morales (Jessica Chastain), on the other hand, who comes from a mob background, wants her husband to fight violence with violence and do something, especially when an intruder targets their house at night and the kids find the gun he discarded the next morning. But Abel refuses and wants to run his company with some sort of integrity during the growing crime wave in New York’s most violent year to date. But with the wife doing the books he has no real idea how his company is really being run and perhaps the wife is the one who should be making the big decisions around security. It will take only one phone call to her dad and they will be protected.
As a way to secure financial independence for himself and see off his competitors, Abel, with the help of his attorney, Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), decides to cut a deal with a group of Jewish landowners, led by Josef Mendellsohn (Jerry Adler), to purchase a fuel oil terminal on the East River. This will allow Standard Oil Company to directly import oil from barges and to store far more oil in the summertime in the vast tanks when fuel oil prices are lower. The plan is a down payment of 40% with the agreement that he will close the deal in just 30 days time with the remaining 60%, but if he fails to do so, the Jews will sell the terminal to one of Morales' competitors and keep the down payment. It’s a huge risk.
As the attacks in crease and the 30 days tick away his employees are increasingly scared, and his rivals ready for him to fall. If they can break him now he will never be able to recover. Its time for Abel to find out who his friends are and to see if he can rustle up enough money to save the deal and keep the authorities off his back without using the old ways he so arbores and his wife was bought up on.
Well it started well and with the polished acting, authentic locations and two well rounded characters up and running and ready to go. But it begins to drag at halfway as you realize this is not going to be the traditional mob business as usual movie. Capiche! It feels and plays ‘Scorcese lite’, as one critic put it, and no doubt the director borrowing from that 1980s heyday of the brash and punchy Italian American mob culture movie.
The soundtrack is there, as you would expect, and plenty of familiar greasy characters meeting in dark rooms with their ‘moma’ cooking the pasta. But this is more a film about immigration than organized crime as various immigrant groups stake their claim in a New York we don’t really recognize, the skyscrapers, like the familiar mob characters, merely a distant back drop here.
Isaac is excellent in the lead as the familiar handsome and charismatic Italian American leader of men and Jessica Chastain breezing through as the designer brand yummy mummy with the potty mouth. I think she could play any character if she really wanted to. Jessica Chastain is Mother Teresa!! But with a budget of just $20 million and the film restricting itself to the less than sexy oil terminal location and the more industrial New Jersey the glamour we were hoping for just isn’t there and this becomes a sort of anti mob movie with nobody getting ‘whacked’ and very little plot than the deal. A man wanting to buy an oil terminal and doesn’t want to use traditional mob methods to takeover the regional heating oil industry gently kills the movie.
As I say it’s so well acted and so you stick with it in hope of bigger moments but you can’t help pining for it to be another Goodfellas with cocaine, girls, seedy bars and guns everywhere. Buts it’s not to be and ends up a morality tale about immigration as the central premise of 1981 being the city’s most violent year kind of lost as we are out on Staten Island where that isn’t happening so much. It just falls a little flat and not the big move I wanted it to be. The fact it tanked and took just $12 mill suggest the fans agree with me and poor word-of-mouth killed its momentum in the multiplexes.
Imdb.com – 7.0/10.0 (47,324votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 89% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 79%critic’s approval
-Audio Commentary –
JC Chandor, Neal Dobson and Anna Gerb talk about their movie.
There a lot of them folks with just about everyone contracted to a bit for the extras. But in my experience if people don’t enjoy the movie much they are even less likely to bother with the extras.
New Statesmen –‘This tale of crime, corruption and soft furnishings resembles a Sunday-supplement Scorsese’.
The Mail –‘ Instead of directing a movie that screams "HEY, IT'S THE '80S," he made one that looks, sounds, and feels like a refugee from that era, and lets the audience do the rest’.
Globe & Mail –‘Like that camel-hair coat Abel wears, A Most Violent Year is classy and commands respect, but a stronger pulse under the lapels would make us care much more’
Sunday Independent –‘Though possibly lacking a little bang bang for your buck, A Most Violent Year represents an absorbing, thoughtful and successful attempt to subvert the usual grisly gangster-chic stereotypes’.
Cape Town Rimes –‘While the title may suggest violence and mayhem, this film is actually a character drama and a stylish one at that. It is a restrained story that meticulously unpacks its characters and shows rather than tells’.
The Film Stage –‘ While it may not fully reach the heights of its potential, A Most Violent Year is still quite entertaining, and due to the level of artistic craft on display, it's always a pleasure to watch’.
Toronto Mail –‘A tight anti-thriller, one where the violence of the title is more implied than seen’.
Financial Times –‘A smartly scarifying drama-thriller whose characters are bled of their self-assurance, drop by drop, and so, in a voyeuristic way, are we’.
Star – Love
Genre – World Cinema > Comedy
Run Time – 98 minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – France
Amazon – £7.40 DVD
Awards – 12 Wins & 15 Nominations
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So what is love? Will it’s not what we thought it would be as kids. It’s certainly two people who fancy each other so are nice to each other and want to be with each other because of that. Oh and you don’t want them to be with anyone else, perhaps the clincher. The boy must be taller than the girl and she must be feminine and look up to him for there to be a relationship. Or so we think. It can simply come about because the other person likes the things you do and so you have lots to talk about. Sadly I do think a lot of attractive people sacrifice that most sort after nirvana of true love just to be with other attractive people, so not to waste their looks, if you like. What we do know is only young sexy women would date old men if they have money but rarely the other way around. But what if you have a director who wants to play with the sparks of young love and bring his own flints to the party and reverse those stereotypes somewhat? French director Thomas Calley is that man with his interesting subtitled romantic comedy. This film is not like many other romantic comedies I have seen.
Adèle Haenel ... Madeleine Beaulieu
Kévin Azaïs ... Arnaud Labrède
Antoine Laurent ... Manu Labrède
Brigitte Roüan ... Hélène Labrède
William Lebghil ... Xavier
Thibaut Berducat ... Victor
Nicolas Wanczycki ... Lieutenant Schlieffer
Frédéric Pellegeay ... Le recruteur
Steve Tientcheu ... Adjudant Ruiz
Franc Bruneau ... Le conseiller funéraire
Maxime Mège ... Adrien
Clément Allemand ... Jordan
Barbara Ayse ... Laurie
Coumba Seck ... Aminata
Tomboy Madeleine (Adèle Haenel) grapples with Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs) at the beach in a wrestling match, organized by a club for ‘wellbeing’ of French youngsters in their small costal town. Madeleine is winning but Arnauld doesn’t want to be beaten by a girl in front of his friends and bites her to get free.
Madeleine is using most of her spare time training hard ready for an army career. The recruitment team is coming to town and she wants to be ready to enlist in a specific survivalist course. The degree she took specialized in urban planning and post apocalyptic population control and so trained in and wants to join that specific aspect of the army. Arnauld, on other hand, doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life now that college has finished and so decided to help the family landscape gardening business by going out working with his brother Manu (Antoine Laurent) in the truck.
His first job just so happens to be at the house of that girl that beat him at the beach, Madeleine doing lengths of her pool with weights in her rucksack, hardcore stuff. The powerful blonde is masculine yet graceful and Arnauld is fascinated by her. But she is cold with him and sees him as feeble in some way and seemingly no reciprocal chemistry or attraction going on. But when Madeleine discovers she has missed the recruitment team at the beach she asks Arnauld for a lift to the next town on his scooter where the Army are setting up for the afternoon. Here they find each other a little more bearable as she signs up for the course as the rain pours down on their return trip, the storm washing out the work he had been entrusted by his brother to finish at her house.
Madeleine is all set and on the train to the two week camp, as focused as ever and sure to top the class. But she is surprised, happy and annoyed at the same time when Arnauld turns up on the train and has also joined the camp. He wont admit it but he is drawn to the aggressive and interesting Madeleine and they are about to go to war in a forest in South West France with paintballs and compasses.
One of the great romantic movies is The Remains of the Day, a love story where there isn’t actually much traditional romance going on, the stiff upper lip restraint of loyal head butler (Anthony Hopkins) repelling the subtle and increasingly longing advances of the pretty head housekeeper (Emma Thompson) he clearly loves very beguiling to watch. I think we all screamed just kiss her man! It’s the subtle gestures, regret and rejection that is so sad in that movie. Here it’s nowhere near as much pathos on show but interesting and different on similar lines as far as romantic comedies go. You always presume tomboys are gay and lads wouldn’t date a girl he feels inferior to but here the role reversal works. Why shouldn’t extreme opposites attract if they want to have something in common to encourage love the message. When you do fall in love it’s often not over a candlelit meal or a process of dating but a simple touch of hands for the first time or just a look from someone you don’t know. You can’t force love but you can certainly pretend it.
The director has you questioning any potential romance early on by having Madeleine slightly taller, smarter and physically superior to the likeable but average Arnaud. How is the director going to get these two together the movie asks? As usual its common interest that attracts as Arnaud sets about breaking down the pretty tomboys acerbic and hostile humor the film is littered with to win her respect. I think what women want most from men is to be able to trust them and look up to them in some way, something our young man is naïve to. By the end of the film you really do go through the raw ingredients of love and emotion and how far people will go to be together.
It’s entertaining and different and that constant stream of acerbic humor as the two put each other down also fun. As kids I remember young love being exactly that and built on people putting each other down at first. The subtitles are easy enough and the film has a unique visual look and feel to it that you won’t find elsewhere in European cinema and keeps you intrigued in it. In fact the second half of the move it has a very British feel to in as the kids move to the rural locations and draw closer together in the wilderness. It’s certainly not your average movie and one to look out for is you like your romance more realistic and raw.
Imdb.com – 6.6/10.0 (3.657votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 81% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 63% critic’s approval
The Mail –‘Even when it's slowing down, Fight shows beguiling confidence in both its filmmaking and its characters-enough to make its smallest romantic moments feel significant’.
Robert Egbert –‘ Madeleine (Adele Haenel) does not know that she is a character in a rom-com. She thinks she's in a war movie. Or, better yet, a dystopian post-apocalyptic movie. Anything but a rom-com. She does not smile until an hour and 20 minutes into Love at First Fight’.
Village Voice –‘Rejuvenating the romantic comedy through its unusual premise - in which training for an elite army unit releases a flood of pheromones - Cailley's film is also buoyed by its enormously appealing leads, Kévin Azaïs and Adèle Haenel.
NYTIMES –‘’For its first two-thirds, the film, written and directed by Thomas Cailley, seems to be groundbreaking. Then it slides into comforting familiarity.
New York Post –‘ A sort of grown-up version of “Moonrise Kingdom,” France's Love at First Fight has some youthful free-range charm but not nearly as much as its predecessor’.
Times –‘It's an intriguingly off-kilter relationship drama and the two leads are persuasive.’.
Total Film –‘Crowd-pleasing without compromising on its uniqueness, the result has romcom structure but a beguiling adventure mood reminiscent of the best US indies’.
A guy walks into a bar..
Star – Ethan Hawke
Genre – Action > Sci Fi
Run Time –107 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – USA
Amazon – £3.00 DVD £4.95 Blue Ray
Awards – 11 Wins & 18 Nominations
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We all love a good time travel movie and enjoy being wrapped up in the often confusing and intricate timelines that allow the plot to go almost anywhere and flagrantly contradict itself with the very paradoxes that make traveling back in time impossible. The Back to the Future and Terminator trilogies are the kings of the genre and many more classics like Time Crimes and Donnie Darko up there. Predestination is more in the line of the ‘Adjustment Bureau’ and ‘Looper’ in that it’s about the policing of the use of time travel to stop the paradoxes that can cause when people knowingly or accidentally change things in the past. I wouldn’t say Predestination is anything new in the genre and as with all of these the plot is very confusing and you need to pay attention to. Its definitely one of those movies you need to watch again to pick up on the subtle clues.
Its stars Ethan Hawke, an interesting actor that takes on all sorts of projects and not your average movie star. You know him to look at, he has a cool movie name but he rarely does blockbuster or big movies, perhaps commercially best known for Training Day with Denzel Washington and for real film fans we know him from the superb love story Before Sunset, one of those films you need to see before you die. He is a seriously good actor and has already accrued 4 separate Oscar nominations. This would no be his fifth.
Ethan Hawke as The Barkeep
Sarah Snook as The Unmarried Mother/Jane
Monique Heath as 10-year-old Jane
Olivia Sprague as 5-year-old Jane
Noah Taylor as Mr. Robertson
Madeleine West as Mrs. Stapleton
Christopher Kirby as Agent Miles
Freya Stafford as Alice
Jim Knobeloch as Dr. Belfort
Christopher Stollery as The Interviewer
Tyler Coppin as Dr. Heinlein
Rob Jenkins as Mr. Jones
In 1981 time travel has been invented and kept secret from the world for obvious reasons. It’s policed by a secret U.S division, who send agents through time to try and ‘correct’ events and disasters. No one can travel more than 53 years back from that year or make more than 3 jumps on a mission as it makes the timelines unstable. To avoid paradoxes the agents must NEVER leave any trace of their travel.
The film begins as a time travelling agent (Etan Hawke) is trying to disarm a device that explodes and seriously burns his face in. A mysterious person approaches and helps him to recover his time travelling device (which is carried in a guitar case) and zaps the burnt man back to a hospital in the year of 1985. While the agent is recovering at base from facial reconstruction, we learn that his mission was to try and prevent attack on New York in 1975 by the so-called "Fizzle Bomber".The agency has failed again.
After his recovery he receives his last assignment from his boss, a Mr Robertson (Noah Taylor), the agent sent back to New York in 1970 under the cover of being a barkeep to have one more go at tracing the bomber and so prevent the attack that killed 100 people. He knows a customer, John, will walk into that bar at a set time. They get chatting and the androgynous looking John tells his life story. He was not always a he and once a she, growing up as "Jane" in an orphanage, born 1964. Today, for a living, he/she (Sarah Snook) writes true confession articles under the pen name "The Unmarried Mother", the pseudonym explained by his/her own life story being narrated to the barkeep.
Jane excelled in her studies but a bit of a loner and so avoided relationships. She tells the rapt barkeep she applied for a program called "Space Corp", which promised young healthy and attractive women the chance to go to space, her life long dream, the role to provide astronauts R&R (which is as perverted as it sounds), but later disqualified from being top of the class because of a mysterious medical condition which she was unaware of until that point.
Jane later meets the man of her dreams at university, who said he was waiting for someone when they first meet. The two fell in love, but later the man disappeared. But what role does Jane play in the agent’s mission? He is about to reveal his identity and tell her as the guitar case comes out and the coordinates are set…
I was looking forward to this one as we all know time travel movies are always rather good fun. It’s a genre where a bad script can get away with it. The director is clever enough here to hide the obvious plot in plain site as you contemplate something far deeper might be going on. I will admit I didn’t twig the twist and where we were going at any point as what is going on is too pretty preposterous to contemplate. But, as with all time travelling movies, you can get away with pretty much anything with those paradoxes in the movie. It’s definitely a film to watch again to pick up on the clues you missed the first time. The directing team of Michael and Peter Spierig are meticulous that way and try to make it all fit.
As I said before Ethan Hawke is clearly one of those actors willing to jump between arthouse fare, B-movie and genre fodder, which this is neither, by the way) and is ideal in the lead and keeps you interested and just about on about on the tracks to lead you through the intriguing and confusing plot. It’s not worth trying to figure out if the story is possible – even ethical – at the end and just enjoy the twists and turns would be my advice. Hawke is an interesting actor on screen and carried some of the enigma of the movie in his presence. Sadly Sarah Snook as the transgender character looks more someone from the League of Gentleman and somewhat off putting.
It’s a good honest time travel flick with an increasingly confusing plot that didn’t seem to bother the critics who delivered some good write ups. I would say the only real negative is its bloody slow to get going and the bar story reciting really stalls the movie. That needed a good trim. That aside I think you will enjoy it if it pops up on terrestrial TV or your movie package listings although I would say it’s anything special in the genre.
=== MY Top 10 Time Travel Movies===
Back to the Future 1-3
Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure
Edge of Tomorrow
Imdb.com – 7.4/10.0 (171,867votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 84% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 69%critic’s approval
The Guardian –‘Like all time-travel stories, this inevitably trips on its own causal illogic - but not before it's offered you a taste of something genuinely rich and strange, and probably toxic’.
Entertainment Weekly –‘’Predestination's pace is too slack, and the brothers are as painfully tentative as storytellers that the easily guessed big twist gets three separate reveals.
New Yorker –‘A brisk, twisty, and atmospheric science-fiction thriller that piques the imagination and the senses with the low-rent exuberance of fifties drive-in classics’.
Las Vegas Weekley –‘A clever and surprisingly affecting reminder that sci-fi doesn't need overblown action to keep audiences intrigued’.
SF Weekly –‘A largely faithful adaptation of a 1958 Robert A. Heinlein short story, Michael and Peter Spierig's Predestination is a time-travel yarn that worked fine as a 13-page read, but as a film the time-bendy elements come across as sub-Primer at best.
The Mail –‘... packs a powerful emotional punch thanks to its sensitive treatment of emotive themes and an incredible, multi-layered performance from Sarah Snook’.
Orlando Weekly –‘"The craftsmanship on display is finely tuned, the bros know what the hell they're doing, and their story is engaging, even if you can see the twists coming at times."
Star – The Mafia
Genre – World Cinema > Crime
Run Time –110minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – Italy
Awards – 21 Wins & 17 Nominations
Amazon – £9.23 DVD (£9.99 Blue Ray)
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I think it’s fair to say the 1980s was the peak for Hollywood mafia movies and we haven’t seen much since. It was such a cool genre to watch as Scorcese and co rolled out some of the greatest movies of the last 50-years, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Donnie Brasco and Carlito’s Way to name but four. They made the names of cinemas finest Italian - American actors and those guys have lived off it ever since. The Sopranos briefly but the genre back in the punters DVDs in the new millennium but nothing since. But European cinema has been knocking them out ever since and Black Souls yet another, up there with with belters like the more gritty and realistic Gomorrah, and ‘A Prophet’, with the brilliant Tahar Rahim, the new DeNiro. Interestingly the co-star of Black Souls, Marco Leonardi, was the teenage Totò from the outstanding Cinema Paradiso.
Marco Leonardi ... Luigi
Peppino Mazzotta ... Rocco
Fabrizio Ferracane ... Luciano
Barbora Bobulova ... Valeria
Anna Ferruzzo ... Antonia
Giuseppe Fumo ... Leo
Pasquale Romeo ... Ercole
Vito Facciolla ... Pasquale
Aurora Quattrocchi ... Rosa
Bruno Armando Isabella Bandini
Carlos Bardem ... Miguel
Antonio Brescia Lucia Catanzariti
Domenico Centamore ... Rosario
The film centers on three brothers from the ‘Ndrangheta’ crime syndicate in Calabria, a region of located on the toe of the boot of Italy. Up in Amsterdam one of those brothers, the handsome and charismatic Luigi (Marco Leonardi), is brokering a drug deal with a Spanish smuggler on a busy and Rotterdam canal. But ‘family business’ calls soon after as he is asked to return to those Calabrian mountains of his ancestors, where a grand tragedy is about to unfold.
In Milan, the smartly-dressed and more cool-blooded middle brother, Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta), is the brains of the operation and looks after the crime family accounts, living well with his sexy wife Valeria (Barbora Bobulova). The third and the eldest rbother, Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), has withdrawn from the syndicate to herd goats in the crumbling mountain village of their family and tries to live the guilt free simple life. But there is new blood looking to enter the family business, handsome and cocky teenager Leo (Giuseppe Fumo), Luciano’s disenchanted 20-year-old nephew. But Leo has a quick temper and an act of silly and unsanctioned revenge on a rival venerable families business reawakens a long-slumbering Calabrian feud between the two, and soon the crisis swells to take in two generations and many more lives in those mountains as Leo plots to kill the rival head of the family to settle an honor debt, an action that will only result in all out war…
Director Francesco Munzi’s Black Souls is washed and bleached of all glamour and grows stranger and more compelling by the minute. Its good stuff and a welcome mafia movie for those who love the genre. I do. Yes all the mobsters wear black leather jackets and chew matchsticks and could be at home in a Euro trash Steven Seagal film but that’s the only movie mafia cliché on display. And yes, the plot may seem familiar from all the other Mafia movies but what is original here is the film's somber tone and its absolute refusal to glamorize violence in any way. Violence is a constant threat, not a method, to resolve issues.
It’s a measured and intelligent thriller that grows more gripping with each passing moment and slides you to the edge of your seat. The cast are rally good and the characters tree dimensional, distinctive and appealing, no matter how bad they behave. You want these guys to whack each other. Gomorrah showed the mafia how it is, brutal, disloyal and savage, whereas this is all about hiding that seething delinquency in a “normal” family background. After all, these crime families did grow out of traditional Italian families who had regular jobs and lives once.
The directors meticulous scene-setting is the key here and allows tension to build gradually but meaningfully, everything on camera having meaning, the camera lingering on those darkly lit interiors and so contrasting those intimate but threatening spaces with long exterior shots of the traditional rustic Italian village that hides these dark secrets and those black souls, places decaying like the crime families morals that inhabit them. It has a horror film feel at times as the crescendo builds to obvious bloodshed.
The film is an ominous, well-acted portrait of an ingrown feudal society of violence, retaliation and deadly blue-collar machismo. In a working-class community in England you would see this attitude played out on every sink estate but we Brits are not armed to the teeth with that Italian passion and respect for the family dynamic - and accompanying firepower. It really gets to grips with that male ego nonsense of never backing down and always looking to settle things with violence.
This will appeal to non foreign film fans and not that many subtitles to tackle.
Imdb.com – 6.8/10.0 (1.791votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 94% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 75critic’s approval
The Mail –‘It reminds us both the word and the concept of "vendetta" came from Italy’.
The Times –‘Just when you think there's no fresh blood to be found in the mob film along comes Black Souls from Italy to prove you wrong’.
The Telegraph –‘A tough, sober portrait of a culture seeped in deadly traditions that perpetuate themselves, and in which any attempt to escape the cycle merely prolongs it’.
The Guardian –‘The film's long low hum of quiet pays off with an aptly shocking climax’.
The Observer –‘This is a dynastic tale that gets more claustrophobic as it develops, as its web of vendetta-style recriminations closes in on the Carbone clan, goat farmers who have diversified into riskier and more profitable businesses’.
The Big Issue –‘A brooding & haunting look at how violence submerges men into a never ending darkness’
Empire –‘The tone is pseudo-Sopranos at times, but the oppressive ambience is grippingly sustained’.
Radio Times –‘The focus moves fluidly around the key players, enriching the story, while the action is unflashy but precision-staged’..
Star – Joseph Gordon Levitt
Genre – Action
Run Time –91minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – USA
Amazon – £2.50 DVD £4.33 Blue Ray
Awards – 1 Wins & 4 Nominations
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So you may have heard about the ‘gig economy’, a method of employment where companies get around paying employers holiday and sick pay by locking them in as their own personal self employed workers, very much a take it or leave it deal, especially if you drive a cab or work as a courier these days. This enables the employers to get much more work out of a whole fleet of workers for less money. With black cabs there are only so many cabs for so many punters so fairs artificially inflated on supply on demand rules but with the internet and satnav, The Knowledge has lost its kudos and value and so outdated, hence Uber. Now any mini cab driver can flick on the satnav and get you where you need to be and so no skill involved and so companies like Uber stepped in and said we will over supply cabs so its stacked in favor of the passengers and so they are always satisfied but leave the drivers having to take far more fairs a day to earn what they were earning before the days of Uber. It’s exactly the same for cycle couriers, those pesky grebo’s you see whizzing around our big cities. Then some bright spark in Hollywood said hey, let’s make an action thriller about those guys and cast Joseph Gordon - Levitt in the lead! A bonkers idea it proved. No doubt the cast & crew were on zero hours contracts.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Wilee
Michael Shannon …Detective Bobby Monday
Dania Ramirez ... Vanessa
Sean Kennedy ... Marco
Kym Perfetto ... Polo
Anthony Chisholm ... Tito
Wolé Parks ... Manny
Kevin Bolger ... Squid
Aasif Mandvi ... Raj
Lauren Ashley Carter ... Phoebe
Aaron Tveit ... Kyle
Jamie Chung ... Nima
Christopher Place ... Bike Cop
Hotshot cycle courier Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spends his days whizzing around Manhattan delivering packages with no brakes and one gear to various businesses and customers. In between that he is dating fellow cycle courier chick Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) and super competitive with fellow fast rider Marco (Sean Kennedy) on the job. The college dropout doesn’t care much for an office job career and somehow gets by on $80 a day, Uber style contracts for all. If they don’t deliver it someone else will is the courier code.
Today will be like no other when Wilee picks up a package at NY University from a woman called Nima (Jamie Chung), the Chinese roommate of Vanessa, who wants the package urgently delivered to Chinatown, and she looks worried. The package is more important than Wilee realizes when he is accosted in the student carpark by a man (Michael Shannon) claiming to be the college Dean, and when Will won’t hand it over, he gets chased by the guy who clearly isn’t the Dean.
From then on in its one mad pursuit after another as bicycle cop (Christopher Place) joins the pursuit of the tearaway kid after one infringement too many on the walkway, weaving through the busy Manhattan traffic, often going the wrong way down a one-way street. But the guy chasing them is willing to do anything to get that package back and so our courier call in his mates on two wheels to deliver the package as he cant go to the cops.
This is pretty bonkers stuff and without Joseph Gordon-Levitt' in the lead it would have tanked for sure. A fixed-wheel bike with a single gear and no brakes about describes this instantly forgettable bit of Hollywood bunkum. Its light on character and plot but, even on two wheels, the action is fast and furious and so enough fun to give it a 3-out-of-5. And it was a physical shoot as Levitt had to ride those bikes fast around the city and came off a few times, one time hitting a cab and smashing into the rear windshield, shattering it. He managed to block his face with his arms and needed 31 stitches on the right. He has hit his head a few times in movies I have noticed.
For all its silliness its kind a fun but the acting is not great, Michael Shannon (The FBI agent in Boardwalk Empire) getting typecast now as the brooding villain. JGL can act and he keeps us racing along with him as we hope the action movie becomes a credible thriller. But it doesn’t and the rather dumb plot and confusing jeopardy doesn’t offer any twists and only the use of some cute graphics and non linear plotting (think Pulp Fiction) keeps this above the norm. But I dint grumble or turn it off and if the director has a map fascination and wants to make movie about them then so be it.
The multiplex audience was not duly impressed with what is that rather silly film and its $35 million made just $31 million back, enough people going to see it because JGL was in it but poor word-of-mouth thereafter. I can’t see its one to not bother with as there is enough there to watch it but you have to say the action sequences are just too silly to be contemplated and so the film loses its credibility early on. I will say New Yorkers would like it as it was a film clearly made for them and about their city and no doubt howling at the screen when the director got his cartography wrong. It’s a bold idea to have a bicycle courier movie in Manhattan but if the director had just told himself those words then maybe he would have picked a smarter project.
Imdb.com – 6.5/10.0 (96,356votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 75% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 66critic’s approval
-The Starting Gun-
Behind the scenes stuff on the concept of the film and the casting
-Behind the Wheel-
As above really and nothing to see here. Its really nota film worth explaining.
Deadspin –‘The movie, idiotic as it is, has its charms, thanks in large part to its two main actors’.
The Patriot Ledger –‘Gordon-Levitt proves he's the best actor on two wheels, pedaling furiously to save a grueling ride from becoming more tiresome’.
Time Out –‘Just a few spokes short of a wheel, guys’.
NY Times –‘Premium Rush is that rare bird: a chase picture that's just a chase picture - and a dandy one’.
The Mail –‘It's weightless and graceless, complete with a stock love story, a cloying human interest angle, and no shortage of poor acting’.
I’m a small time cricket writer and statistics are a big part of being one. I use the cricketarchive.co.uk as my first port of call to get domestic stats, averages and records, especially on Northants, and the official ECB site and then cricinfo.com for the more international based articles and stats and stuff. The ECB site is good for the business, fans and participant side of cricket where as cricinfo is more subjective and more interested in holding cricket to account like a broadsheet would. It’s a different style of writing to the printed press and breaks more interesting stories on the game. I really struggle with the old style of cricket writing of teacakes and long summer’s days and prefer a younger tone and edge. Cricinfo certainly does that, writers like George Dobell edgy, opinionated and interesting.
I chat online with Dobell and other people like Nick Hoult from The Daily Telegraph and we often coordinate our gossip on Northants when there is a story there. Northants recently moved to a LTD company from a ‘members based’ county and I worked on that story. Members held a vote at the EGM and 85% of those members voted to become a LTD company to secure new funding streams and so the members voted away all of their rights in a plebiscite in pursuit of new money to buy new players. We were digging deeper and knew the new money was anything but and simply property developers and building companies wanting to be on the club board for a future move or liquidation.
Cricinfo is internationally owned so diverse and covers all international cricket stories and stats. Indian cricket is world cricket’s revenue driver and so they feature heavily, as do Australia. But they also keep people informed with stories from tear two nations like Ireland and Afghanistan. Ireland are pushing hard for test status and I for one would love a Test match in Dublin. That would be one big piss up! If they win the qualifier for test status next year that’s what will happen.
England cricket are big on the site of course and playing some good one-day stuff right now. Bangladesh haven’t lost a home ODI series for while and England’s win in the heat and dust this week may signal a team ready to win the Champions Trophy, to be held in Great Britain next year, if you didn’t know. The Bangladeshi’s were conveniently allowed to see the return of two chuckers and two guys involved in domestic match fixing for the series and so near full strength but didn’t quite have the big batting and lost the series 2-1. Butler, Stokes and young Duckett will be the backbone of that team from now on. Ben Duckett is a Northants player that came through the youth team and turned the chance to move for more money when he was confirmed in the England tour. I have watched him through the age groups and see him as a big player for England and the hybrid player that will do well in 4-day tests that scores quickly and around the park to entertain, if and when the shorter tests come in. Ben’s forthright mom played hockey for England and has coached some of those style into Bens play. He sweeps both sides of the wicket and hard to know if he is left or right -handed
As I say the stats and records sections are strong on the Cricinfo site for international teams and the first place to go to check records. Did you know all of the 400 plus scores in ODI cricket have happened in the last 10-years? You need detailed records listings to keep up with crickets changing face these days as white ball begins to dominate. That changing face will include a pink ball day/night test match at Edgebaston next year, the idea being more people will turn up after work and school to watch test cricket. It worked in Australia because of those warm nights but it just won’t work here.
The site has good video sections of current cricket goings on and one of the better blog sections. It also has all the fixtures, scores and news from around the cricket world. A current topic is the hearing into the sad death of Phillip Hughes in Australia. Fellow pacer Doug Bollinger alongside Kyle Abbot who delivered the fatal ball is accused of telling Hughes with an atypical Aussie sledge that he ‘was going to effing kill him’ during the match. For me there need not be a hearing as we saw exactly what happened. It doesn’t well how well designed the helmets are. Players will bend the bars to see the ball better and move other protective stuff around so it fits snug.
On the whole Cricinfo is the best site for subjective comment and a younger audience. It’s funded by a huge US sports conglomerate and so has the legal power to be more combative with its writing. My style of article writing is very much theirs. Say it as it as it is, sport or not. They say sports writers are the most interesting writers as they have the harder job to do to bring their work to life.
Star – Dan Stevens
Genre – Crime Drama
Run Time –100 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £1.47 DVD £5.99 Blue Ray
Awards – 3 Wins & 11 Nominations
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With the end of high street DVD rental and online movie streaming taking over, I think it’s fair to say mid budget films like The Guest will probably not be made for much longer. If you have a movie package with Sky or Virgin etc you tend to watch the ‘big movies’ in your spare time and not scroll down to see what else is available. Because of that this year I have decided to buy most of my movies from Amazon Marketplace and then flip them at places like CEX or on the local market and invest that money in more stuff. A movie package is a bit too expensive for me. I don’t want to watch multiplex fodder and so online second hand movies at great prices allow me to pick and chose the move interesting and quirky ones to review and see. The Guest is certainly that.
The star of this retro American action horror is none other than Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens, doing a rather good Texas accent and a chap I once met playing cricket for a village team. He was rather good and a cricket nut and goes to a lot of Surrey matches. The film is from Simon Barrett and director Adam Winguard, who did the equally genre teasing ‘You’re Next’. It’s not like many movies you have seen before and enjoys mixing many genres. But for the ladies Mathew Crawley is in it and he has a six-pack so that should be enough, doing a rather good impression of Ryan Gosling, which is no bad thing.
• Dan Stevens as "David"
• Maika Monroe as Anna Peterson
• Brendan Meyer as Luke Peterson
• Sheila Kelley as Laura Peterson
• Lance Reddick as Major Richard Carver
• Leland Orser as Spencer Peterson
• Tabatha Shaun as Kristen
• Chase Williamson as Zeke Hastings
• Ethan Embry as Higgins
• Joel David Moore as Craig
• Steven John Brown as Mike
• Brenden Wedner as Ian
• Alex Knight as Mr. Lyles
• Frank Bond as Mr. Alston
• Jesse Luken as Drew
• Kelsey Montoya as Jason
• Justin Yu as Blair
• A. J. Bowen as Austin
• Chris Ellis as Hendricks
• Candice K. Patton as Sgt. Halway
• Chris Harding as Caleb Peterson
All American mom Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) recently lost her son Callum in Afghanistan and proudly flies the American flag outside her middle-class home with pictures of her son Callum proudly displayed all around the house. Those memoires are about to come flooding back when handsome and clean cut blue-eyed stranger ‘David’ rings her doorbell and tells her was is in Callum’s unit and a buddy in Afghanistan and come to pay his respects. Mrs Peterson is lifted by the likable young mans visit and he appears to be who he says and in the photographs with her son in the unit and so it’s not long before he is welcome in the Paterson’s home as a guest as he has time on his hands after laving the army.
Mom puts him in Callums old room, much to the concern of Callums hot sister Anna (Maika Monroe). Obviously she is weary of him at first and maybe he does have PTSD or something but soon draw to his blue eyes and six-pack. Dad Spencer (Leland Orser) is just happy to have another man in the house. Luke (Brendan Meyer), a 16-year-old high school soft more completes the Peterson clan.
David is a bit of a dude/badass and soon starts ‘fixing’ the families problems and making himself useful and so indispensable to the Petersons. He is great around the house and quickly deals with David’s bullies at school and Mr Paterson career promotion prospects. He is the ideal big brother for Luke and potential boyfriend for Anna. But something still doesn’t sit right with David and when bad things start happening in town Anna calls the army to check him out. She was right to and David is not quite as stable as he looks and mayhem is about to arrive as the school Halloween dance nears and Major Richard Carver (Lance Reddick) and his SWAT team arrive in town to bring him in.
The Guest has definitely got something but it hasn’t quite got enough of it to make this a cracker. Dan Stevens fun one note dark performance (think Ryan Gosling in every movie he has made) keeps the film tongue-in-cheek fun and sadistic as the peripheral unknown cast exaggerate his performance and so impact his menace some more. I didn’t watch Downtown Abbey but I’m guessing he took this movie to bury that typecasting of the posh boy, which most of our top British actors seem to be these days.
With its Cool electro retro soundtrack (think Terminator) the film is intentionally structured as a horror film with the pace of a thriller. In fact its multi genre at times. The first act is psychological drama with a slow build up to the second act as we move the film into action thriller territory in the and on to its stock horror slasher ending, the final Halloween sequence a real treat. There is black humor and twisted cliché aplenty and also surprise genre twisting that produce notable moments. It’s quite simply not a film that sticks to convention and likes to play with B-Movie staples.
I enjoyed it enough to recommend it to you and certainly not suited to kids as it’s very violent at times although not big on gratuitous sex and nudity. Although the plot is straightforward action thriller stuff it’s suitably disguised and some cool moments to be enjoyed, the ultimate antihero turning into anything but by the end as the bullets fly and the knife is twisted in the gut. It will be interesting to see what director Winguard comes up with next and encouraging knowing there are people out there still trying to make films like this. Top end 3/5 to watch out for folks!
Imdb.com – 6.7/10.0 (64,534votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 90% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 76%critic’s approval
-Audio Commentary –
Adam Winguard and Simon Barrett talk about their film.
- Deleted Scenes-
Flicks.com –‘If The Guest were a color it would be the neon blue of its title card: a little bit show-off, a little bit retro, but it'll definitely brighten your night’.
The Radio Times –‘One of the many pleasures of director Adam Wingard's tough, fun thriller "The Guest" is seeing Matthew Crawley -- er, British actor Dan Stevens -- serve up a mesmerizing star turn of psycho charm’.
Globe & Mail –‘The pleasures of The Guest lie mainly in anticipating how the next expected corner will be turned’.
The Mail –‘Dan Stevens] plays wholesome, aloof, seductive, dangerous, psychotic... He nails every single beat’.
Scene Stealers.com –‘Barrett and Wingard are more about exploring the wish-fulfillment than getting into any deep psychological warfare. Still, the screenplay knows just when to create more menace and move on, and it escalates the craziness right up to the breaking point.
San Francisco Times –‘This 1980s-style movie has wickedly pleasing aplomb. As fantasy escapism, it's brave, colorful and entertaining for audiences who can handle substantial carnage’.
Village Voice –‘A transcendent comic chiller, when The Guest's characters are in peril we actually care, and Wingard respectfully makes the kills clean and quick’.
Star – Steve Carell & Keira Knightley
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 100 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – US
Amazon – £4.00 DVD
Awards – 3 Nominations
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Keira Knightley is one of those pretty and well spoken actresses that just leave me cold. She is beautiful but not attractive and just too darn skinny and no doubt that breath smells likes the devils bottom to keep her that thin. Super skinny women are never sexy. That means she has to be able to act and, as yet, there is no real evidence of that. Like Hugh Grant she basically plays herself in every movie she has ever been in and the Americans lap it up. Then, pairing the 28-year-old Teddington ‘totty’ with the 46-year-old middle aged comedy dad that is Steve Carell is even more of a struggle for the viewer. To compliment that ‘icky’ casting Steve Carell’s real wife Nancy actually appears alongside Steve as husband and wife in the movie, no doubt to keep an eye on her hubby.
The film is the directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria, who adapted the winning romantic comedy ‘Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist’ with a funny and intelligently entertaining screenplay. Like Knightley, Carrel tends to play the same comic role in most of his movies as the put up on blue collar loser who does pathos and cast for that reason here, both playing to type, why Scafaria cast them, I presume, for this end of the world ‘comedy’.
Steve Carell … Dodge
Nancy Carell ... Linda
Keira Knightley ... Penny
Mark Moses ... Anchorman
Roger Aaron Brown ... Alfred
Rob Huebel ... Jeremy
Adam Brody ... Owen
Tonita Castro ... Elsa
Leslie Murphy ... Amy
Connie Britton ... Diane
Rob Corddry ... Warren
Kasey Campbell ... Danny
Melanie Lynskey ... Karen
We begin with a countdown to the end of the World, the Space Shuttle failing to blow up an asteroid heading for Earth in the year of 2021. The world has been told ‘Matilda’ will hit in three weeks time as order begins to break down. Indifferent Insurance clerk Dodge Patterson (Steve Carell) life has not changed much since the bad news from space, alas, and still goes into work, employs a cleaning lady, and spends his nights alone, separated from his wife.
After attending a friend's end of the world party, where he declines the chance of sex, drugs and rock and roll, Dodge returns home to drag up feelings about his high school sweetheart, Olivia. His day improves when he notices his pretty neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) crying on the fire escape as he goes to her aid. She has just split up with her boyfriend Owen (Adam Brody) for making her miss her last chance to fly home and see her family in England, all flights to London booked out full now. At her apartment, Penny gets chatting and gives Dodge three years' worth of his mail that was wrongly delivered to her apartment and unwittingly tells him that his wife was having an affair.
Dodge bites his lip and races off into the night, drinking window cleaner to finish it all. He fails miserably, wakening up in a park, with a stray dog tied to his foot with a note on his coat reading "Sorry", which becomes the dog's name there and then as he takes the mutt home. When opening the old mail, he is taken aback to find out there is a three-month-old letter from Olivia, which joyously reveals that he was indeed "the love of her life".
Later, a riot breaks out in their street. Dodge drags the self-centered Owen to the car with Penny. As the riot rages, Dodge explains to the ditzy Penny that he knows someone who could fly her to England, if she helps him find Olivia, Owen left behind in the mayhem. She agrees and the two set off with Sorry for Dodge's hometown in Delaware to find Olivia, where dad Peterson has a plane on his landing strip. But the blossoming and unlikely friendship between Penny and Dodge is growing like the fireball in the sky as the two contemplate life and all things human as both are about to come to an end alone. No wants that.
So whose bright idea was it to pair up Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in a soulful American romantic comedy? That does not convince in any way and like I said, somewhat icky. I think it’s fair to say the only welcome bright idea here was when the comet was about to hit them both. It couldn’t come soon enough for me. By half-way you get the message the film is drifting and like that to the end.
Carell is familiar at playing the put upon middle aged vulnerable/ loser pathos thing and more of the same here, deploying his signature sad faces of regret and missed opportunity at every opportunity. But up against the happy go lucky middle-class girl cliché from North London that is Keira Knightley (for me one of the worse actresses working today) it doesn’t really work well in contest of the movie and zero chemistry. In fact everyone in the film doesn’t seem too bothered with the doom of the end of the world and this defeats the point somewhat. There is a much better movie hiding in this script somewhere, poorly cast and executed. A darker script and style of comedy acting would have been more fun.
With poor casting and too much sentimentality it bombed in the multiplexes and failing to recover its modest $10 million budget at just $9.6 return. I’m guessing the cast got most of that cash as there are no special effects or stuff like that going on. There are no belly laughs or memorable acting moments and only the expensive nostalgic soundtrack keeps you vaguely interested. I like Carell and a very funny guy in some of his movies but when he tries to do serious it always falls a little flat, ‘Dan in Real Life’ another one that didn’t quite work. Carrel is more of an improv comedy guy and thank God there is none of that here. If you like Keira and Carell then by all means give it ago but I have seen a lot of his films and this not his best.
Imdb.com – 6.7/10.0 (88,356votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 55% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 59%critic’s approval
-Music from the film-
Some great tracks in the film
-A look inside the movie-
Perfunctory behind the scenes stuff with cast & crew.
Timeout –‘Though it's clear we're meant to be moved by the big finale, the sight of these two together is so unsettling it's hard not to start rooting for the asteroid’.
The Bostonian –‘There's an entire world out there that's about to end, and this movie zooms in on the two least interesting people in it’.
Epoch Times –‘Could there be a more opportune time for this topic? Will that pack 'em in the theaters? Not likely. It's hectic while lacking tension, thus paradoxically ending up both irritating and boring simultaneously’.
The NY Times –‘Writer/director Lorene Scafaria moves her apocalyptic rom-com into new territory for such a formula-driven genre’.
The Standard –‘Carell could have given the performance of his life (he doesn't), and the film would have remained a cliché-ridden mess with a narrative built on convenience and coincidence.
The Seattle Bugle –‘Seeking a Friend is two potentially great films fused into one. Unfortunately, the two halves don't peacefully coincide...
Screenwriter –‘ Scafaria's brand of refreshingly sharp wit and insight will deliver for her fans but it wouldn't be the end of the world if you sought the movie out on the home video circuit’.
In the late 1980s Ted Turner invented one of the greatest unneeded TV products ever, rolling news, and an expensive behemoth that just won’t go away now. Now all the big countries in the world have rolling news and at least 7 of those 24 hour news stations available on UK TV platforms its expensive and flashy and everywhere and we can’t say we are not informed. The reason why commercial TV networks love it so much is its so lucrative. Ted Turners CNN exploded like Baghdad in popularity during the first Gulf War as the world watched on as America made their first physical military incursion into the Middle East to expand its oil and business interests, the so-called western interests abroad. With an audience like that they couldn’t sell advertising space quick enough. War is extremely profitable in America and the US has been involved in one war or another for the last 50-years. No surprise Fox, CBS, ABC and co followed CNN.
In the UK we have Sky News going up against BBC News24 and I admit I do dip into it as I like my news up to date. I wish we could have it on the hour on the main channels but the world has changed and if there is a big breaking story we switch over to rolling news and so it is justified. 911 and 7/7 had viewers welding their TV button onto those channels back in the day as those terrible events infolded. There is a lot of guessing and filling at times like that but what else do we expect the presenters to do?
I prefer Sky to the BBC as the BBC has to stick to scripts and things like diversity quotas and attitudes where as Sky just employ the best talent to project the best opinion. The BBC has to employ 3 black and Asian journalists in every 10 – in the studio and out in the community – and it feels forced. Have you noticed how the black and Asian presenters on the BBC are always on the news desk on bank holidays and weekends because the middle aged white men and leggy ladies won’t work those shifts? If Fiona Bruce does a bank holiday I’ll eat my hat. And if the BBC have to be politically correct on whom reads the news then are the BBC doing that with the actual news in some way and so compromised? I don’t doubt the BBCs objectivity, of course, why it’s the worlds most trusted broadcaster but the station feels like it’s caught in the headlights over its integrity now. Poor old Lois Theroux had to do a 90 minute apology on Jimmy Saville in his BBC2 documentary as if it was his fault. It still didn’t clear up the idea that Jim was a pedophile but just a dirty old man. I’m sure if they had dirt on Terry Wogan they wouldn’t have released until after his death.
BBC News is less austere these days and more like Sky. The pretty ones with nice figures on the desk have to stand up and entice the male viewers into watching their station. The girls know they will be bombed out after their 40th birthday when the crows feet arrive and so stay in shape, Fiona Bruce and Kate Silverton getting thinner and thinner, Sophie Raworth stacking those boobies up higher and higher every year. We understand why you need to attractive to read the news as its a basic television rule but the BBC are employing models to read the news now. Whether we admit it or not they want us to feel like we want to shag their newsreaders with those front zip slinky dresses and high hemlines and that makes the news more appealing rather then truthful. That is not the BBCs job. That’s Sky’s job. Sky needs to sell adverts to exist so they have a news station so they can actually read the news. We have to pay the license fee so the BBC should just read the bloody news. I do fancy Sophie though.
I like Sky’s paper review at 11:30pm just before bed when a panel of two - one left wing commentator and one right winger commentator - and a presenter go over the next morning papers and previous day’s events. Recently gay left wing commentator Owen Jones threw a tantrum on the show arguing over a Muslim guy who shot up the gay night club in America insisting the attacks were homophobic rather than terrorism but the presenter stood his ground and made his point of view known and Owen walked of the couch in a huff. The Sky presenter, of course, was fired from the slot.
Because the BBC has begun to abandon sport as funding is slashed, Sky’s sports news is way better with all the best and up to date clips, especially from the sports they run, like Premier League, cricket and tennis. Sky sports will show you recent goals. There sports delivery is quicker and to the point than the BBC who drag out what little footage they have. But if you have Sky Premier League football you can show the goals on the news just after they happened and the same with wickets in the test match. Sky wins sport hands down. The BBC are set to lose Wimbledon and the US Master in the next two years and so will only get worse for the corporation.
Weather on Sky is crap, some dolly bird in a tight top doing a lot of pointing at the green screen and gurning and being as ambiguous as possible on tomorrow’s weather. It’s no secret that commercial weather casts are more positive than the BBC ones. That may change as the Met Office have just lost the BBC contract after 50-years and so more dolly birds and gay men likely. Positive weather shifts products. You want to know the sun will shone tomorrow.
Sky business news isn’t quite as reliable as BBC news and I would go with the Beeb on that one. World News is another win for the BBC and BBC World one extravagance too many for license fee holders. But like the Royal Family, BBC news is soft power for the U.K and why stuff like the royals and objective world news keep that veneer of respectability for the U.K.
On the whole Sky news is the more watchable new station as it has more energy and less repetition and not restricted the way the BBC is on those moral and objective grounds. I like the presenters on both but just like the livelier feel on Sky.
Star – Tahar Rahim
Genre – World Cinema > Drama
Run Time –94 minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – France (subtitles)
Amazon – £15.00 DVD
Awards – 4 Wins & 9 Nominations
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With the news that China and France are to pay for, run and staff our next generation of nuclear power plants then Grand Central turns out a revealing and contemporary French drama of what’s to come. China are to receive an extremely inflated and guaranteed amount of money for each therm of electricity they produce in the plants and that will help British Nuclear fuel to pay down the estimated $15 billion cost of the build. Most of that cost will be passed on to the consumer in higher bills and cost savings expected in staff and sub-contracted work to bring that bill down some more.
Grand Central, although a straightforward love story, explores a little known aspect of nuclear power where contractors try to get the cheapest labor possible to run and clean them so to maximize their profits. You would think the wages would be really good around working with radiation but not so, in France the long term unemployed sent to these places to work or risk losing their benefits. Because accidents happen the staff turnover is high as the low skilled and poorly educated immigrant and local workforce build up radiation exposure through mistakes and longevity at the plants. The power stations simply get rid of the staff - that have little benefits and union support - when they are over - exposed to radiation at the plant. Because the people need the work and have to be there they alter their monitoring badges to keep working to get money and so avoid sanction on welfare. Its pretty brutal and exploitative stuff and coming to a nuclear power station near you.
• Tahar Rahim as Gary Manda
• Léa Seydoux as Karole
• Denis Ménochet as Toni
• Olivier Gourmet as Gilles
• Johan Libéreau as Tcherno
• Camille Lellouche as Géraldine
• Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as Isaac
• Nozha Khouadra as Maria
• Guillaume Verdier as Bertrand
• Marie Berto as Morali
Gary (Tahar Rahim), an unskilled blue collar guy, lands a job as a decontamination sub-contractor at a nuclear power plant in the lower valley of the Rhone, the Grand Central power plant in France. Inducted into the workforce by supervisor Gilles (Olivier Gourmet) and veteran Toni (Denis Ménochet), who both live on a gypsy site, the cocky and confident Gary quickly discovers that cleaning up radiation is as scary as it sounds. Contamination is not just a risk factor with the job but an everyday hazard. You rely on each other in the cleaning teams and if you make a mistake it could be yours, or there, last. The team of cleaners wear various levels of protection for each area of the power station and the higher the risk the more money you get per hour, although the money not that much. Each worker wears a badge on their suits that monitors their exposure and once you go over a certain limit in the month you are moved to a lower risk area or let go.
At the same time, Gary begins an illicit affair with Karole (Léa Seydoux), Toni’s fiancée. It turns out that Toni is sterile from his time working at the plant, and Karole becomes pregnant by Gary. But Toni becomes suspicious of the handsome young man and if you don’t have 100% trust of your fellow team members in Grand Centrals reactor zones you better start worrying about your safety.
The concept and reality of cheap labor exploited in nuclear power stations is interesting as it is shocking whereas the love story wrapped around the jeopardy feels more like female director Marie Zlotowski instincts taking over here. It simply doesn’t work as the two leads are too attractive and perfect to make you believe they would be in this bind. But if you are a young French director and these two offer their services you can’t say no. I’m guessing this film would have not been made without them. I also feel it would have had more appeal if the cast were unknown so we could have more Silkwood and China Syndrome action. There will never be another nuclear power station film like they made in the 1970s. Saying that it did win at Cannes and five other European festivals so it must have made an impact.
Grand Central has that rare appeal of pulling the viewer into a world hardly seen in real life, and even less on screen. The scariest part of this film is when the radiation klaxons start up as the workers pass through the detectors but after a while you realize that is simply a metaphor for the risky romance and the radiation side of things fizzles out. Under age gypsy girls marrying middle aged men would have been another exposed nuclear fuel rod to touch on.
The plotting may be contrived but Zlotowski cranks up the tension effectively enough as our lothario Rahim has to deal with both the threat of radiation poisoning and the consequences of his actions with someone else girl who knows a lot of violent thieving gypsies.
It’s a solid watch and you do get involved in Rahim’s character and his bravado around the plutonium. The smoldering Léa Seydoux is two dimensional throughout and her best bit on screen is when she whips off her kit off to reveal a cracking body. Again, the director seemed to be trying to sell her film first with big French stars and nudity than exploiting the interesting conflict of working in and around nuclear power. The acting is OK and the tension there as a film unwinds in front of you that you really don’t know where it’s going to go.
The budget of $3.9m clawed back just $2.7 and so considered a flop in any other genre but subtitled films rarely make a profit so I would consider it a breakeven. But I like foreign films because only the good ones generally make it to a British market and they are always interesting and emotionally tort from France. They have a certain texture our movies don’t. Saying that if you don’t like subtitles then this may not be foe you as its medium talky.
Imdb.com – 6.2/10.0 (1,175votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 92% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 85%critic’s approval
Irish Times –‘The film's white trash world of hip-hop, trailer parks, cheap clothes and cheaper wine is beautifully realized’.
Montreal Times –‘The film hits its stride in the second half, hinting at the emotional confusion and unspoken motives of these characters as they circle one another, hoping to get what they want and somehow emerge unscathed’.
FilmForward.com –‘ Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and Léa Seydoux are not only convincing but raise the heat without overpowering Rebecca Zlotowski's sensitive, fly-on-the-wall approach’.
The Guardian –‘I found it gripping, with an edge of delirium; the locations within the power station are positively Kubrickian; there's a disquieting electronic score and Tahar Rahim gives a very open, generous performance’.
Radio Times –‘Zlotowski takes admirable risks, and the result is a flawed, provocative curio’.
The Observer –‘Rahim and Seydoux keep things grounded in the familiar isotopes of human emotion, their passion less explosive than merely uncontained, progressing inexorably toward meltdown’.
Star – Peter Drinklage
Genre – Fantasy
Run Time – 10 x 50 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – US
Golden Globe Winner
Amazon – £11.99 DVD - £16.99 Blue Ray
Series Awards – 201 Wins & 333 Nominations
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If a TV show is as talked about as much as Game of Thrones and has a 9.5 rating on the Imdb then who am I to ignore it? It’s has taken me five long years to take a look, though, as it’s just not my thing. It’s the fourth highest rating TV series ever on the movie database and was the first TV show on IMDB to get more than one million votes from users. Its number 4 in their all time list behind Band of Brothers (1), Planet Earth (2) and Breaking bad (3). Band of Brothers better than The West Wing? Seriously!
===The top 10===
1. Band of Brothers (2001) 9.5
2. Planet Earth (2006) 9.5
3. Breaking Bad (2008) 9.4
4. Game of Thrones (2011) 9.4
5. The Wire (2002) 9.4
6. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014) 9.3
7. Rick and Morty (2013) 9.2
8. Cosmos (1980) 9.2
9. The Sopranos (1999) 9.2
10. Sherlock (2010)
It’s based on the books by George R R Martin, an old chubby bearded chap that would not be out of place in his fantasy adventures and openly admits he was inspired to write his novel series "A Song of Ice and Fire" because of the success of the Lord of the Rings films back in 2001. TV producers and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss couldn’t put the books down and knew they had a winner on their hands. But unlike Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games they felt a TV series would be better as there was just too much story and adventure to pack into just three movies. Seven boxset’s later and billions of pounds in the bank HBO and Mr Martin were very happy indeed they took it on. As of 2014, it is the most watched HBO TV-Series of all time, with an average viewership of 16.1 million (Season 4), slightly ahead of a record which was previously held by The Sopranos (1999), who placed fifth in the Imdb list. This was the first TV series in history to be screened in IMAX theaters. Because of its cure audience demographic of being young and teenage geeky Goth bedroom rats it was the most pirated TV show of 2015 for the fourth consecutive year, ahead of The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory.
If you didn’t know the concept it’s about seven realms of a mythical world with seven Kings and Queens in charge, one of them deemed the King of all seven realms, usually decided by war and arranged marriage, known as the game of Thrones. Some prominent families rule the realms and some more righteous than others, a land of magic, war and tradition producing those 8 series to date.
Sean Bean as Eddard "Ned" Stark
Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont
Aidan Gillen as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Richard Madden as Robb Stark
Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon
Rory McCann as Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
‘Ned’ Stark (Sean Bean) is a gallant and swashbuckling Knight and Lord of the kingdom of Winterfall, the gatekeeper of the mighty 200ft wall that keeps the danger of the north out of the rest of Kingdoms of the Westeros. The rather lecherous and decadent King of the seven realms, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), is in town and has asked his friend Ned to be his chief advisor (known as the Hand of the King). How could Ned refuse and so pledges loyalty to his king.
Ned and his wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) receive a letter from Catelyn's sister, Lysa (Kate Dickie) that gives them reason to believe that rival House Lannister – to which the King's wife Cersei(Lena Headey) belongs – was the cause of the previous Hand's death. Ned travels south with his wife and two girls, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) to help the king and find out who killed the previous Hand, Jon Arryn (John Standing), while trying to protect his family from the rather Arian Lannister family, the handsome and equally arrogant Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) also in town.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea in the continent of Essos, the exiled Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd), son of the former king whose throne was stolen, believes he is rightful claim to the Iron throne and so king of all kingdoms. His plan is to marry off his younger sister, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke, the familiar blonde one you may know), to the Neanderthal leader of the Dothraki warrior tribe, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), in an exchange for a mighty army to return to the realm of Westeros and take the throne. At first the beautiful Daenery is horrified by the ignorant and backward tribe and their leader but eventually begins to fall for the man mountain Drogo to be Queen of the Khaleesi that will make her one of the most powerful Queens of the realms, known only as the Dragon lady to the peasant tribe.
Back at the wall winter is coming and there are dark rumblings that the feared ‘Whitewalkers’ are awakening from their 1000-year sleep, the living dead with fearsome blue eyes. Ned's bastard born son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) joins the Night's Watch in preparation, an ancient brotherhood sworn to watch over the massive Wall. Although a fine swordsman he will need to become a man soon as war is brewing and dark forces are leaving the woods and heading his way.
Lord Stark is also in great danger as he uncovers some truths in the House of Baratheon. Some want to help him, like the playboy drawf Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and the rather Machiavellian Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen), but who to believe as the game of thrones begins and the heads begin to roll.
The mark of the pedigree of a classic TV series is one that still holds its original price of £11.99 on the Amazon catalogue some 5-years after its release date. It’s clearly a TV series they won’t drop the price on as people will come around to in the end as they don’t want to miss out on this boxset event, as did I. It’s like watching a virtual game of chess as the king’s move slowly but meaningfully holding power as the queen’s race around court shaping the next kings. We have pawns and knights, bishops and castles, and some dungeons and dragons. Its geek heaven.
What I like about HBO is they don’t worry about demographics and likely fiscal returns to new TV series and simply give the producers the money to go away and make it. It’s very much the station of choice for those who want to make their visions. Game of Thrones is certainly that, the average cost of production per episode around $6 million dollars. One episode cost $10 million! This puts the show on a par with 'Friends' (1994 - 2004) as the most expensive TV show of all time.
It’s like an adult version of Lord of the Rings with that pithy dialect and attention to detail to keep the books integrity but a lot of gratuitous sex and violence to earn that 18 rating. There is a lot of sex and impressive naked bodies on show but it feels forced to keep those teenage boys on board. The violence is more acceptable and works in contest and sometimes comical and if broad sword can be wielded then they will. If someone needs to be stabbed through the brain or lanced through the helmet on a horse then so be it.
There are a lot of characters to be developed in series one and the ones you think are being set up to last the whole series may prove not to be indestructible as they look, a concurrent theme throughout the seven boxsets, I’m told. Because of that scene setting and character building the first series takes time to get going and you do wonder what all the fuss is about after the first five episodes. It was bit like that with Breaking Bad to be fair. It dose go through the gears in the final two episodes and sets up the second series. We enjoyed Lord of the Rings for its vast panoramas and battle scene and that’s what I am expecting from this in series two.
On the whole well acted and some great locations and authentic feel and enjoyable cartoon performances to enjoy. Its obvious Sean Bean was bought in as the big name to see the concept to viewers and the rest of the cast fairly unknown. Charles Dance brings his familiar droll self to add some pedigree and Peter Dinklage great fun as the wisecracking imp. Sansa Stark is played by Northampton actress Sophie Turner, who wisely left when she was 2 to greater things.
Imdb.com – 9.5/10.0 (1.543, 979 votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 89% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 88% critic’s approval
-Audio Commentaries –
There are a lot of them
- The Making of the Idea-
- Creating the Doltraik language-
- Creating the Game of Thrones credits-
-The Night Watch-
-Guide of Westeros-
-Book to Film-
Tampa Bay Times –‘It's the stuff of fantasy geek heaven; a gritty period drama with letter-perfect clothes, weapons and lingo, yet unencumbered by historical facts or the weight of real events’.
TV Equals –‘The series was created with such care, it has so many intricate elements that brings this world alive. It's like peeking into a microcosm!’.
Media Life –‘The main accomplishment of Game of Thrones is that, while it should keep the hard-core fans satisfied, even viewers who don't care whether Theon is a Greyjoy or a Tully can play along and have a good time’.
TV Guide –‘HBO has found its answer to Lord of the Rings in adapting George R.R. Martin's enthralling, sprawling, ruthlessly brutal and magnificently entertaining series of page-turners’.
LA Times –‘A great and thundering series of political and psychological intrigue bristling with vivid characters, cross-hatched with tantalizing plotlines and seasoned with a splash of fantasy’.
Hollywood Reporter –‘Worth the wait? Absolutely. And even if you have no idea what all the fuss is about, you should get in from the start to absorb Martin's fantastical tale’.
When you think about the internet it’s pretty amazing how much of it is free. Browsers must have taken millions or hours and dollars to perfect over the decades yet you can download all manner of them for nothing. People moan about privacy agreements on Facebook or adverts on MySpace but they seem to forget that its 100% free and 100% a fantastic product that is connecting the world. How else do people think these sites are going to pay for themselves? In fact it took 10-years for it to turn a buck. Admittedly it makes a cool $1billion a quarter now on advertising revenue but it’s still free and you can block most of the adverts. The saying goes that if it’s free on the internet then you are the product. This altruistic giveaway continues with email, messaging systems and porn, of course. In fact free porn is believed to be the main driver in the expansion of the World Wide Web in the 1980s and 90s and only recently did porn and sex related hits drop below 50% of all traffic. The internet can now exist with out porn. It’s a bigger moment than you think. Online porn is worth 5 billion pounds a year in Europe alone. So in that case why doesn’t YouTube allow porn? No problem with Jihadist being blown up with their own weapons or westerners in orange jumpsuits having their heads hacked off but god forbid a naked titty or a member of Motley Crew being orally consumed by the female cast of Baywatch. Unless I am unaware of a secret naughty YouTube whose gateway is only known by very few people I will remain confused on that one. I would much rather they banned the nasty violent stuff kids should never really see than introduce porn though. I am in favor of censoring the internet of the nasty stuff. It can’t be doing anyone any good. Whatever you tap into Google you can find it. You should not be seeing that stuff at a young age.
The original concept of YouTube was place for you and me to post out videos up and as long as they weren’t too naughty they would stay posted up. But in 2009 it was sold to Google for $1.65 billion and became the world’s richest company’s own video site, which was quickly commercialized with popstars and movie trailers. It’s unlikely anyone will ever see your homemade YouTube video of your rock band or family japes anymore. YouTube is just another social media delivery system to promote the entertainment corporate. I miss those videos of unknown rock bands fighting on stage or twin sisters making out. In fact the latter are still there.
Saying that it’s still the best at what it does and who doesn’t enjoy looking for old videos of your favorite sports team, rock band or TV shows. I like the way YouTube does police copyright policy and you can’t just go on their and rip free movies and box-sets. Other sites like Vimoe and co are no that diligent. I also love the way it sucks you in as you go there to watch one film and then suddenly you are engrossed in watching all manner of films as you press stuff listed on the side on similar topics. I remember looking for some big wave footage and found loads of new Tsunami stuff and I was there all night. Everyone has a camera phone now and so what we thought were rare events are now common as everyone records them. Who doesn’t love watching tornadoes? In the 1970s tornado news footage would be worth a lot and extremely rare but now teams of stormhunters can have a career of the back of footage of storms alone.
The negative side of YouTube there is a lot of dross out there as way too many people think they should be famous. From amateur magicians to pub singers they out are there in droves. I did think about doing a channel on Northants Cricket to go with my articles but thought not for long, my audience at the games, not at home online in their smelly bedrooms. And there lays the problem with YouTube. It’s mostly crap! These young fresh faces teens that do female cosmetic reviews or these lads channels can make money if you can get a big following but the adsense royalties are not great and you need 2 million hits to make any real money to think about giving up your job.
It’s easy to use and the videos are all streamed. There is no charge and all the major entertainment names and acts have their own channels. It doesn’t go off piste much and is just videos and you can link up with other social media although YouTube is always harder to do on that score for copyright reasons. You can leave comments below if you join YouTube and you must join to post your videos. You cant record videos online and only share them
The viral video is key to YouTube success but no one sets out to make a viral video. Who knew that a dog chasing deer on a London Park would be seen by 100 million people on Earth? It’s interesting to note just how many viral videos involve cats, dogs and babies. Parents seem to carry on filming their pets and kids when peril is obviously coming. Who needs Jeremy Beadle with YouTube around?
After the smug and rather aloof Bradley Wiggins Tour de France victory and Olympic road race success bought the Tour back to Britain it’s fair to say he was the one that helped to start a cycling revolution here. We have all been out walking or driving in the countryside and those familiar colorful racing shirts come whizzing by. Middle England has embraced sports cycling like never before and men of all shapes, sizes and professions are squeezed into Lycra and pretending to be their Tour hero’s. Expensive petrol prices have doubled that number again. Alas, now Wiggins appears to be the doper we all thought he was and all but admitting he took the medication to stay on a ‘level playing field’ we may see a little less of the Yellow Jersey come whizzing buy this autumn. Chris Froome, of course, is so dull and Kenyan I don’t think he has any fans. He, too, has asthma. In fact 37% of pro cyclists have asthma and that number rising fast. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is going to be a tough call this year.
I don’t have a racing bike and haven’t since my Raleigh 20 days in the 1980s. If I cycle to a job or go out riding its on one of the mountain bike designs these days. I have got through three so far. The thin frame and tire racers puncture easily and there are a lot of potholes to hit these days so not the way tog o. I use the chunkier tire bikes for most durability reasons and they are surprisingly cheap second hand. The frames are sturdy and with the simple design and 7 gears on most models they are pretty quick over most terrains. I’m not averse to going off road when afforded the chance and weather and these bikes designs allow for a bit of that. The thicker tread likes the mud and water.
The GT-1 has a nice comfy seat that you don’t feel giving your knackers any grief and the low bar design means no chance of cracking your nuts if you slip off the saddle like you did on the old style racing cycles. The frame is the V-shaped Isosceles triangular one and thick and with a solid visible weld but doesn’t make the bike too heavy. When you get home or go to ‘work and play’ destinations you tend to have to hump your bikes around with a heavy padlock on for safe and secure reasons so the lighter bike frame here is good news.
===Product Description Spec===
• Frame: GT i-Drive 5 6061 heat treated full suspension frame
• Rear Shock: Fox Float Shock 7.25/1.75 standard length
• Pedals: MTB alloy body
• Shifters: SRAM X7
• Grips: GT Lock Down, co molded locking grip system
• Headset: FSA Integrated, sealed angular contact bearing
• Saddle: SDG Bel Air
• Seat Post: SL Alloy Micro adjust
• Seat Clamp: GT Alum QR
The seat is adjustable and like Guy Martin I do like my seat at an angle so to make my crown jewels happy. The bike is designed so you can easily add lights and drink holders etc. Unlike my childhood I won’t be attaching a dynamo to it to power the lights. The disc brakes are powerful and have chunky grips that bring you to a very rapid halt. Don’t squeeze too hard or over the bars you go. They are not those lose fitting jobs so don’t need to be lined up all the time. The read design suspension is pretty cool and way ahead of what we had in our day. You can really hit the countryside with this model and have some fun. It allows for the bike to clear boulders and descend trails fast. It really can take a beating.
The gears are plentiful and you need them going up hills as the smaller wheel means more work than a racer. There are three cogs and 14 in total, of which you need only a few. A thumb flick gear leaver is nicely placed in the center area of the handle bars. Again there is room for more gadgets here, like a smartphone holder of that Go Pro cam. If you need to film traffic smashes then go ahead.
The mud guard is a little small and kicks up water on to the pedal area. One or two bolts work lose after time but easily fixed. The Go Pro adapter doesn’t fit all models and the bike not as universal as far as fittings go. It’s Chinese made and set up for sale around the world and made as cheaply as possible. That doesnt make this poor or weak quality though. The grip also spins up the water and sludge off the road. But it is designed for of road so I suppose fair enough.