Wednesday, 25 February 2015

That's all, folks.

That is that.

It MAY be temporary, but I suspect it will be permanent. The blog is no more.

And the reason for stopping the reviews is quite simple - I just found myself spending more and more time sharing links and engaging in (admittedly enjoyable) conversations with other film fans, to the point where I would have to plan my days and weeks as far in advance as possible. Believe it or not, I haven't actually written a full review in about 5 weeks. All of the preceding blog entries were already done by the time I'd decided to stop blogging.

I may not have given that much thought if it hadn't been for an incident that occurred a few weeks ago. It was just one of those typical internet snowball affairs, most of us have been involved in one or two if we're online for the majority of our time. But that one incident led to this blog receiving a record number of traffic. A record number of people coming here to see what I'd written, all because of a quick, offhand joke/insult that I made on Twitter. I don't regret that tweet, and I certainly don't mind getting lots of banter from it, but I was extremely saddened to see how easy it can be to boost figures with that kind of approach, unintentional or not. It made me realise that all of the hours I'd spent trying to find the right word or phrase didn't actually matter. I could have just as easily written an inane stream of consciousness, gone on social media to bait people with any comments that would stir them up, and sit back to watch the numbers jump up and up and up. Nope, I may not have any solutions but I didn't want to be part of THAT problem.

On the plus side, that means even more actual viewing time, I've started to use Letterboxd to maintain my OCD levels, and I may still be tempted to cover a few festival releases for Flickfeast.

In the meantime, many of you will know where to find me. Now, excuse me while I line up my next movie viewing choice.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mr. Turner (2014)

Written and directed by Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner is a film that looks at the artist known as Turner (don't you know). Although it's far from a definitive look at the life of the man, it certainly feels like it. This is a hefty investment of your time, clocking in at about two and a half hours, but those minutes fairly fly by.

Timothy Spall gets the title role, and if you can tell me a bad performance that he's given in the last two decades then I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. As far as I'm concerned, Spall is one of those actors who always seems to be on top form, and this film gives him what could be considered his best role yet. Gruff and grunting, yet also amusing, learned and polite, Turner is always shown to be equal parts man and artist. He may mingle with the upper-classes, but seems to prefer avoiding recognition in favour of anonymity during times when he is free to live his life, seek out inspiration, and not have to worry about exhibitions or sales.

I don't know exactly how much of this movie is true, or based on truth, but it certainly feels authentic. This is a world in which works of art are enhanced with a little bit of spit mixed in to the paint. It's a world in which you can smell, and even almost feel, the materials.

A great cast lends Spall their full support, with standouts being Paul Jesson (as William Turner), Dorothy Atkinson (as Hannah Danby), Marion Bailey (as Sophia Booth), and Martin Savage (as Benjamin Robert Haydon). All of these people contribute something important to Turner's life, even if it's just a healthy sense of perspective afforded by seeing the failings and misfortunes of a fellow artist.

Like all good biopics, this keeps the viewer engaged throughout and encourages further exploration of the subject once the end credits have rolled. The times may have changed, of course, but the drive remains the same in the mind of all artists. As does the turbulent times that can alternate between feast and famine.

Leigh may have produced a movie that seems to wander aimlessly from one seemingly disconnected moment to another, but the broad strokes do eventually receive some fine detailing. You can really start to appreciate how everything falls in to place in the second half. The full picture IS here. You just have to take a few steps back to fully appreciate. Which is often the way with great pieces of art.

9/10

Eager to pick up Mr. Turner? Then this UK disc is the only option for now - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Turner-Blu-ray-Timothy-Spall/dp/B00OZJ2W0I/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1420306412&sr=1-2&keywords=mr.+turner



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The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Magic In The Moonlight (2014)

Although there are still delights to be found, a modern Woody Allen movie seems to have the same template. The writer-director will include some lovely jazz on the soundtrack, he'll use the movie to explore one main topic, with love always either helping or clouding the issue, and an assorted cast of great names will have some fun in some picturesque European locations (although New York is also an acceptable setting). I'm not saying that every film he has made over the past couple of decades is EXACTLY the same (Blue Jasmine happened to take place in San Francisco, for example). I'm just saying that he's almost become a genre unto himself. Gone are the days when his movies were either funny or serious, gone are the more interesting/fun ideas (such as those explored in Zelig and Sleeper), and gone is the sharpness. It can appear, at times, as if Allen is giving people an impression of an Allen movie. Allen-lite, if you like.

Colin Firth plays Wei Ling Soo, a master stage magician who can also remove the clothing and make-up to move around more inconspicuously as . . . . . . . Stanley. Stanley is famous for his cynicism and ability to disprove psychic phenomena, which is why his friend (Howard Burkan, played by Simon McBurney) enlists his aid when he thinks that he has met a young woman (Emma Stone) who has a real gift. So begins a battle of wits, with Stanley soon coming around to the fact that he may actually have met someone with a very real, very astonishing, psychic ability. He may not even notice the fact that love is in the air, so intent is he on trying to expose the girl for the fake that he assumes her to be.

Firth and Stone are both delightful here, although neither are at their very best. The fault doesn't lie with them, but rather with Allen's sadly flat script. Early scenes have a few great lines scattered throughout them, Firth is much more acerbic in the guise of Wei Ling Soo than he is as Stanley, and then it starts a gentle slide downhill from there. All is not lost, however, thanks to some solid support from Eileen Atkins, Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden and Hamish Linklater. And those leads.

The main theme being looked at here is whether or not lying is good, especially when it can make people so much happier. It's not a bad subject for Allen to explore, it's just a shame that he does so in a way that feels too lightweight for even just one feature. This leads to many scenes in which people just talk about their own views of the universe, and the possibility of spirits and magic, or Firth and Stone dance around one another, figuratively speaking. The latter scenes are far more enjoyable than the former.

You can always tell when a movie is being made by Allen about something that he feels passionate about. There's a story that he feels compelled to tell. With the lacklustre approach he takes here, it's clear that this story could have been pushed aside for something better. It's light and frothy, nothing more and nothing less. Worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of the director and cast, but not necessarily one that you'll be revisiting a few years down the line.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Moonlight-Colin-Firth/dp/B00O0292GW/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1418905545&sr=1-2&keywords=magic+in+the+moonlight



Sunday, 22 February 2015

Frank (2014)

Christopher Sievey was a talented, creative artist who many people, including myself, would never have recognised if we passed on the street. That's because he became better known as Frank Sidebottom, a character easily recognised by his oversized, paper-mache head. Frank would still sing, but was more often to be found delivering comedy to audiences who would be equally amused and bemused by such a quirky character.

This movie is based on him, but not JUST him. The main character is an amalgamation of Sievey/Sidebottom and one or two other notable musicians. A lot of material was gleaned from the writings of Jon Ronson, who helped to craft the script, but it's also set in the here and now, instead of the late '80s and early '90s (when Frank was, arguably, at the height of his popularity). So it's a fictional biopic about a man, with some other personality traits added from other unique artists, all embodied by someone wearing a large, paper-mache head. Clear enough? Good.

Domhnall Gleeson plays Jon Burroughs, a young man who strives to work at his music when he's not stuck in the drudgery of everyday life. It looks as if fortune has smiled upon him when he's in the right place at the right time - near the beach where a keyboard player is trying to drown himself - to be invited to play with an eccentric pop band, fronted by Frank (Michael Fassbender, face hidden from sight for most of the movie). But perhaps he should have spent more time considering just what would drive the previous band member to a suicide attempt. If there's a choice between an easy path and a hard one it looks as if Frank wants the band to take the hard path every time. But Jon thinks he can change things for the band. He thinks that, thanks to his updated on Twitter and YouTube, he has created a decent following for them. He's not the first person to think that he can change the direction of the band, and Frank seems receptive to things, but the others warn him against the move. And it would seem that the others have been through this sort of thing before.

I know how ridiculous it may seem, but this film benefits immensely from yet another great performance from Fassbender. He may well be hidden away under that fake head, but his voice and body language convey plenty. Gleeson does well to keep a straight face opposite him, as do the rest of the band members (Francois Civil, Carla Azar, Scoot McNairy and Maggie Gyllenhaal). In the role of Clara, Gyllenhaal is probably the most important supporting player. Her character is often hostile, sometimes violent, but always with the best interests of Frank at heart.

Crucially, the film creates a great aural landscape to accompany the visuals. It may not be a great soundtrack, in the classical sense, but I found many of the tunes and sound mixes very enjoyable. I'm not sure how many, if any, are based on actual works by Frank and co. but they certainly feel in line with the spirit of the artists.

Capturing the essence of someone isn't always that easy. Director Lenny Abrahamson has managed to do it here. Helped by the script, from Ronson and Peter Straughan, this is a look at a particular type of creative mind. It tries to peek behind the mask of one unique individual, despite the fact that the individual incorporates characteristics from a few different people, and then shows that maybe it's best just to stop prying. If the man maketh the mask, and the mask then maketh the man, why even try to disturb the balance by separating the two?

8/10

http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Blu-ray-Domhnall-Gleeson/dp/B00ND0DDQC/ref=sr_1_2_twi_2_twi_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1420205736&sr=1-2&keywords=frank+movie



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And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Unbroken (2014)

Jack O'Connell stars in this look at the incredibly tough life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who was shot down during WWII, survived for 47 days in a raft, and then ended up in a Japanese POW camp where he became the target of a particularly vicious authority figure there. It's a story that shows the very best and worst of human nature, and the movie is highly recommended, even to those already familiar with the tale.

Directed by Angelina Jolie, this is a film that ticks all of the boxes. There are many moments here that we've all seen before, but they all add up to an impressive final product. And I guess this is one of those many occasions when truth seems stranger than fiction. It certainly has moments that feel very much like traditional Hollywood moments, but this is almost necessary to outweigh the darker sequences.

Using the book by Laura Hillenbrand as a template, the screenplay has been put together by William Nicholson, Richard LaGravenese, and the Coen brothers. Yes, you read that right. The Coen brothers. While no part of this ever feels like a Coen brothers movie, it's interesting to wonder just how much they contributed, and whether their presence is the reason that the film doesn't gloss over some nastier incidents that will make viewers flinch.

O'Connell is fantastic in the lead role, even if his accent isn't exactly spot on. Going through an incredible transformation between the beginning and end of the movie, he manages to keep showing inner strength and some kind of hope (sometimes for rescue and sometimes, I guess, for death), and keeps you rooting for him even as the odds of him surviving look to grow bigger and bigger. Domnhall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund and Finn Wittrock do well in their supporting roles, and Jai Courtney even manages not to irritate me during his brief time onscreen, but the other major figure in the movie is the nasty Watanabe, played by Takamasa Ishihara. He does superb work, creating a monster who has no real rhyme or reason to his actions. He takes a dislike to Zamperini from the very beginning and that is that.

Jolie does a fine job in the director's chair. As by-the-numbers as it is, there are a number of ways in which she refuses to go for the most obvious approach. The score by Alexandre Desplat is used more sparingly than you'd expect, for example, and the material is supported mainly by those central performances and some reliably fine work from Roger Deakins.

Unbroken doesn't rewrite the rulebook. It's a great story, and it's told well.

7/10

http://www.amazon.com/Unbroken-Blu-ray-DVD-DIGITAL-UltraViolet/dp/B00HLTDCLM/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_twi_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1421076926&sr=1-1&keywords=unbroken



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And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead (2014)

I quite enjoyed Dead Snow. There were many who liked it even more than I did, but what was there to dislike about a horror comedy featuring Nazi zombies out to reclaim their treasure stash? Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead actually manages to top the first film. It's brisker, it's gorier, and it's a damn sight funnier.

Following immediately on from the events of the first movie, Martin (Vegar Hoel) continues to fight off Nazi zombies until a serious car crash lands him in hospital. The police have questions for him, of course, but the doctor at least gives him some good news. They've managed to reattach the arm that they assume he lost in the car crash. Unfortunately, he didn't lose his arm in the car crash. Evil Nazi zombie Herzog (Orjan Gamst) did. Martin now has a super-strong, evil, right arm. If he can get it under his control then it may prove useful in his attempts to stop whatever the undead soldiers have planned. He might also be able to enlist the help of the Zombie Squad. Will it be enough?

Full marks go to Tommy Wirkola here (who also helped to write the script again, this time with Stig Frode Henriksen and their leading man, Hoel). Everyone was obviously on the same page, and every scene feels as if there have been as many gore gags as possible slotted in. You're unlikely to see more intestines pulled out, heads smashed and limbs ripped off in any other major 2014 release. And the running gag with a zombie who keeps being killed and resurrected again and again creates some big laughs and also, amazingly enough, affection for the poor thing being used in such a disposable way.

Barring one or two scenes, this is a movie equivalent of a juggernaut heading down a steep hill with no brakes. It doesn't let up, and once plot details are revealed you know just where it's heading, making the anticipation of the climax almost as much fun as the actual playing out of the thing itself.

The only thing that doesn't really sit right is the Zombie Squad, made up of one guy (Martin Starr) and two girls (Jocelyn DeBoer and Ingrid Haas). As happened with the first movie, this film stumbles when making use of characters that are best labelled as nerds. Hey, I'm a nerd. I'm not using it as a negative label, but I also don't think the stereotypes used here (youngsters who use Star Wars quotes and spend a lot of their time online) would necessarily be the most heroic when thrown in to a situation involving real zombies. I know that I've always told my wife that in the event of a zombie outbreak, despite my love for her, I would be trying to race ahead of her, simply to guarantee my own life for a bit longer.

Hoel has a lot of fun in the lead role, especially in the early scenes that show him struggling with a new arm acting out of his control, and Gamst is once again great at simply glowering and emanating evil. Starr, DeBoer (who looks a LOT like Rashida Jones here . . . . . or maybe that's just me) and Haas do okay, considering that they're stuck with the poorest characters, and writer Henriksen also joins in with the onscreen fun, doing well enough in the role of Glenn Kenneth, an innocent bystander who ends up helping to defeat the zombie menace. Hallvard Holmen and Amrita Acharia play a couple of police officers who can't believe what they end up seeing, and Derek Mears is once again under heavy make-up, playing a Russian zombie named Stavarin (hence the title of the movie).

If you liked the first movie then you'll love this sequel. If you didn't like the first movie then there's still a chance that you could like this. It's splatstick comedy at its best.

8/10

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Snow-Red-Vs-Blu-ray/dp/B00OBDKO1W/ref=sr_1_3_twi_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1420143375&sr=1-3&keywords=dead+snow



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Non-Stop (2014)

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Liam Neeson is a badass. He's a potential hero, but also very troubled. There's a plane full of people, with one of them being a nasty criminal type trying to grab a LOT of money. And he/she is not only trying to commit a major crime, he's also hoping to frame our hero for the job.

Yes, Non-Stop is a . . . . . non-stop selection of cliches and familiar action thriller movie moments. Which doesn't make it any less fun. A large part of the enjoyability is down to Neeson, who has been taking on this kind of role so often in recent years that he may well end up in The Expendables 10, whenever that comes along.

Things don't start off too well though. If you're not rolling your eyes when you watch Neeson use a toothbrush to stir his breakfast whiskey then you'll have a second chance to do so when he passes by a roster of usual suspects on his way to boarding his flight. There's also Julianne Moore, playing someone desperate to sit in a window seat. Everything is easily forgiven, however, as soon as Neeson gets some text messages telling him that he needs to get $150M in to a specific account or someone is going to die in 20 minutes. That starts a race against the clock, with Neeson growing increasingly desperate, and perhaps out of control, as he determines to catch his quarry.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (the man responsible for a couple of fun horror movies in the past decade or so - namely Orphan and House Of Wax), and written by Christopher Roach, John W. Richardson and Ryan Engle, Non-Stop is a film that probably shouldn't work. The fact that it does, and does so well, is testament to the zippy script and the fact that Collet-Serra directs with no small amount of style and inventiveness.

Neeson is as Neeson as ever. He's a brand by this point, but a bloody good one. If you're going to invest in a Nesson then treat yourself to the original and best. Acccept no substitute. Moore does well with a role that could have easily been completely thankless, and both Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o do well as two air stewardesses. The former has more to do, but it's nice to just see Nyong'o in a situation not half as harrowing as her most famous role to date. Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Omar Metwally and Quinn McColgan do a decent job with their roles, despite often being asked to act nervy, or aggressive, or whatever suits the mood of the crowd as they react to Neeson's actions.

This is not a film that will blow your mind, or change the face of cinema. It doesn't have to. Few films do. This simply takes some pleasing ingredients and throws them together to make something that stands up as a piece of superior blockbuster entertainment. Translation = it's not that hard to build a decent movie around Liam Neeson kicking ass.

7/10

http://www.amazon.com/Non-Stop-Blu-ray-DVD-DIGITAL-UltraViolet/dp/B00HLTD49C/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_twi_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1419274222&sr=1-1&keywords=non-stop



Wednesday, 18 February 2015

'71 (2014)

Okay, now is not the time for a history lesson. Neither is it the place. But to be fully aware of the tension running through '71 you have to at least be slightly aware of the situation that tore apart Northern Ireland, and sometimes spilled over into areas of the UK, known colloquially as The Troubles. It was a war over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, with the Unionists (who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK) on one side and the Republicans (who wanted to break away and form one united country of Ireland) on the other. A heavy military presence, with most soldiers transferred over from the UK mainland, was required, which didn't go down well with those living in the region. Religious views also helped to keep the battle raging, and that's about all I'll say just now. Please take this paragraph as nothing more than an attempt at a VERY brief overview of a complicated situation that scarred Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom for decades. There's plenty of material out there, by much smarter people, for those who want to read up further on it.

'71 stars Jack O'Connell as Gary Hook, a young British soldier who finds himself isolated from his unit on the streets of Belfast. It's 1971, hence the title, and he is in serious danger. The republicans will kill him if they find him, and there's even a chance that some of the undercover personnel on his side will turn hostile if they think that he could undo all of their hard work. It's going to be a long night for the young lad. IF he's lucky enough to survive it.

Director Yann Demange has been doing some great work on TV over the years (including being at the helm of the superb Dead Set) and he makes the transition to the big screen with no small amount of confidence and skill. It helps that the script, by Gregory Burke, is as good as it is. Although it mixes moments of immediate danger with moments showing characters grappling with choices that they must make, the tension remains high for every minute that keeps our main character in such dangerous territory.

O'Connell has been a rising star for a good few years now and this is yet another fantastic performance from him, with the movie making the most of his youthful looks to underline just how out of his depth he is. He carries most of the movie, despite not always being the focus of every scene, but he's helped by some other great actors. Sean Harris lends his usual intensity to proceedings, Paul Anderson and Sam Reid do decent work, and Corey McKinley makes a strong impression, portraying a boy who is shown to be much more than just your average young lad.

'71 is a film that requires patience and concentration, but it rewards viewers with a movie experience that mixes visceral thrills with intelligence and a roster of well-sketched characters. In other words, it's highly recommended.

8/10

This is the disc available just now, from right here in the UK - http://www.amazon.co.uk/71-Blu-ray-Jack-OConnell/dp/B00O7LYMIO/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1420307913&sr=1-2&keywords=71



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Bad Girls Go To Hell (1965)

Written and directed by Doris Wishman, Bad Girls Go To Hell is sensational tittilation of the highest calibre (or lowest, depending on your view). It's often technically incompetent to such a degree that you end up mesmerised by how awful it all is, eventually falling down a wormhole that brings you out the other side as a fan. Easy to ridicule, but hard to hate, this is strange and fascinating stuff.

The presence of the lovely Gigi Darlene in the lead role helps a lot. She's a beautiful woman, whether cleaning the house in her nightdress or performing spontaneous acrobatics (yes, you need to see it to believe it). Her problem is, apparently, that she's so beautiful and sexy that she drives many around her wild with lust. The movie starts off properly after her husband leaves for work. It's not long until Gigi is being assaulted by a neighbour. When he comes to her home to enjoy a second bout of rape she defends herself, killing the rapist in the process. Worried about repercussions, she flees the scene and spends the rest of the movie trying to settle down into a new life, only to be constantly upset by people who end up abusing her in different ways.

If, mathematically, two negatives make a positive then that helps to explain how this movie ends up being so enjoyable. Negatives pile up on negatives until the sheer number of them seem to cause a collapse that forms one new positive.

Wishman may not direct her movie with any skill, but she's also hampered by her own incompetent script. The movie barely scrapes over the 60-minute mark, yet it still feels padded out. Paradoxically, the ridiculousness of the premise also makes it feel far too light in places. Is this central character really such catnip for everyone around her? Are we supposed to feel that she deserves her fate? Is she the bad girl of the title? The answer to all three questions, worryingly enough, is probably yes. None of these things are explored or developed in an interesting way throughout the movie. You just have to assume everything because, well, women being all unashamedly sexy = very, very bad.

There are other people onscreen here, including Charles E. Mazin, Sam Stewart, Gertrude Cross and Alan Feinstein, but the supporting cast could have been made up of store mannequins for all the impact they have. No, this is all about Darlene. She's not a great actress, but she's absolutely the right person for this role, for obvious reasons.

I sat through many scenes of Bad Girls Go To Hell with my mouth agape. It was such a curious, flawed, uptight, moralising piece of nonsense. And once it had finished I knew that I'd happily revisit it one day, thanks to the fact that those qualities saved it from ever being too dull.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Girls-Hell-Another-Day/dp/B00004W190/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419860062&sr=8-1&keywords=bad+girls+go+to+hell



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Sabotage (2014)

Despite the addition of guns and gore, Sabotage is little more than another riff on And Then There Were None, a fine thriller by Agatha Christie. A group of people are invited to come together, their numbers start to dwindle, and everyone wonders whodunnit. I'm not sure if Christie first came up with the concept, in fact I highly doubt it, but she seemed to package everything in a way that was much more desirable to mass consumers. Unlike David Ayer, who seems to package everything in layers of unpleasantness and misanthropy. That sometimes pays off, and I actually like most of his movies, but not in this case.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the leader of a crack undercover team of DEA agents. They kick down doors where angels fear to tread. And the film opens with them setting themselves up for a nice payday. They're raiding a major drug den, containing a MAJOR pile of money, and skimming about $10M off the top for themselves. Unfortunately, the money then goes missing, the team are investigated, and nobody is happy as they are forced to spend a fair bit of time sitting on their hands, as it were. Things could be looking up, however, when the investigation is ended and the team can go back to doing what they do best. Which is when someone starts killing them off, one by one. And it must be someone good, because these guysare trained to stay alive in some dangerous situations.

Starting off strong, the first 5-10 minutes are pretty great, Sabotage quickly starts dropping in quality with each scene, all the way to a finale that it's hard to care about. That's not to say that there aren't moments of easy entertainment. The nasty deaths are a highlight, and you do (or . . . . should, hopefully) at least want to find out who the killer is. It's just a shame that the rest is such a mess, with a script, written by Ayers and Skip Woods, as weak as any I can think of in recent years. The macho posturing bullshit starts to grate after that opening is over and done, and that's pretty much all that the rest of the movie has to offer.

If you want an object lesson in how to waste a potentially great cast then this is a movie to watch with a pen and notepad beside you. Arnie is the leader of the gang, so he fares better than the rest, but Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Max Martini and Kevin Vance are just one mass of muscular douchebags waiting for their potential deaths. Enos is particularly ill-treated, especially considering what a kick-ass first impression she makes in the opening sequence. And we get poor Olivia Williams struggling, both with an American accent and the fact that she has to be a tough investigating officer one moment and then warming to big Arnie the next. In comparison, Harold Perrineau, playing her partner, comes out of the whole thing relatively unscathed. Relatively.

You get some gunfire, you get some blood and guts, you get the eye-rollingly frustrating cliche of tough men and women who work hard and play hard, and you get one or two minor twists to enjoy. What you don't get are characters that you'll enjoy spending time with. Not a one, which leads to the growing apathy that will stay with you even during those last 20 minutes or so. You may as well watch the Beastie Boys video instead, which is much more fun.

5/10

http://www.amazon.com/Sabotage-Blu-ray-DVD-DIGITAL-UltraViolet/dp/B00JU94ZPS/ref=tmm_blu_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1416355373



Sunday, 15 February 2015

Camille 2000 (1969)

I am not sure how much Italy has changed over the years, having never been there (sadly), but I'm pretty sure that during the '60s and '70s it was the sexiest place in the world. Everything was sexy. Seriously. There's a characters in Camille 2000 who dies of some vague disease, and I think even the disease was sexy. If an ebola outbreak had occurred then everyone would have been trying to get themselves infected over the next few years because it would be the sexiest way to die ever.

There's plenty in Camille 2000 that is sexy, apart from the actual sex. The two main characters - Marguerite AKA Camille, played by Daniele Gaubert, and Armand, played by Nino Castelnuovo - indulge in sexy dancing, sexy hide and seek, sexy gambling, sexy parties that allow people to portray slaves and owners, and even sexy clothes shopping. Yet it's all one big game to the free spirit that is Marguerite, despite the fact that Armand is growing more and more in love with her at every turn. Perhaps their relationship is doomed. But at least it will be sexily doomed.

Directed by Radley Metzger, this is a film inspired by a book by Alexandre Dumas fils. It is, in many ways, a very familiar tale. Unrequited love, pure and simple. Yet, thanks to the screenplay by Michael DeForrest, it's also just as much about keeping up appearances in social circles that will tolerate anything apart from personal or financial embarrassment. I can't say whether or not that was taken from the source material, having never read the book, but it's an interesting additional layer here.

Gaubert and Castelnuovo are, unsurprisngly, sexy young people at the heart of all this sexiness, and they're joined by Eleonora Rossi Drago, Roberto Bisacco, Silvana Venturelli, and a number of others. Nobody really makes an impression, however, as they're nothing more than set dressing, helping to up the sexiness quotient in between the many moments when the leads are being sexy with one another.

The biggest problem that this movie has, as I already mentioned above, is that the sex is the least sexy part of it. It's obviously supposed to be sexy, but it's not. Gaubert and Castelnuovo romp around in various states of undress, snogging one another like a pair of teenagers who have just discovered how to kiss with tongue, and this is repeated a number of times, each time dragging the film to a complete standstill. Other people are also shown having sex, and none of them seem to be having a very good time.

I still enjoyed Camille 2000. It's hard to hate something that almost constantly looks so stylish and, yes, sexy. It's just a great shame that the only unsexy part was the actual sex. Still, at least I can thank it for this review, which may just be the sexiest damn thing I've ever written.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Metzger-Sexadelic-Collection-Camille-Lickerish/dp/B000VCTLKM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1419761356&sr=8-2&keywords=camille+2000



Saturday, 14 February 2015

Jinn (2014)

Jinn starts off with the potential to be good. It's an interesting take on something that we've seen used again and again in horror movies over the years (with the best treatment being, arguably, in the first couple of Wishmaster movies). That potential soon disappears once the film really gets going, becoming content to put itself forward as a supernatural action movie instead of the interesting horror that it could have been.

Dominic Rains stars as Shawn, a young man who is about to have his life turned upside down as he runs into a destiny that he previously knew nothing about. This could affect, and endanger, his wife, Jasmie (the lovely Serinda Swan), and he doesn't want that. Which partially explains why he's willing to listen to the cryptic Father Westhoff (William Atherton) and his assistant, Gabriel (Ray Park), as they fill him in on that previously-unknown destiny of his. All just in time too, as there's a jinn about to commence battle.

Written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad, there are elements of Jinn that I liked. It tries to reposition the creature away from the standard type of baddie that we've seen in the likes of Wishmaster and bring something a bit more complex to the table. It tries. And then it seems to decide against it, instead opting for the kind of thing that we've seen so many times before - a hero who has to endure visions designed to trick him, a battle against supernatural enemies, a world of good vs. evil constantly at war without the rest of the population really taking too much notice.

Rains isn't bad in the lead role, especially in the last reel, and Park gets to show off his usual array of moves, but both Atherton and Swan are underused, with the latter particularly missed during the second half of the film. The only other person of note in the cast is Faran Tahir, who tries his best with a role that doesn't do him any favours, landing him with both expository moments and also a selection of cliches.

Nothing here is awful. The presentation is pretty decent, actually, and you can barely get from one scene to the next without it tripping over some good intentions. But it DOES keep tripping, and we all know where a road paved with good intentions can lead. I don't know how else to say it, except that it manages to become much less than the sum of its parts. There's not enough originality on display here, and what we get is just too dull to be entertaining. Horror isn't a genre that relies on originality, of course, but if you're rehashing so many familiar ideas and moments then it should at least all be done with a bit of flair and style, which this lacks.

Basically, it doesn't completely work as a horror movie, it doesn't completely work as a supernatural action movie, and it doesn't completely work as a blend of the two.

4/10

ffgg


You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Friday, 13 February 2015

They Came Together (2014)

As it's Galentine's Day, this review can appear here today.

Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd star in this spoof of romantic comedies that manages to have its cake and eat it, thanks to the mix of smart gags, fun performances, and moments of extreme silliness.

Poehler is Molly, a typical rom-com lead. She's a bit of a klutz, runs a little candy store, and is mostly content with her life. Rudd is Joel, also a typical rom-com lead. He's "handsome, but in a nonthreatening way. Vaguely but not overtly Jewish." He also works for CRS, a major company that's just about to potentially put Molly out of business. The course of true love is not destined to be smooth for this couple, and the film shows their ups and downs.

Directed by David Wain, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Showalter, this gets everything right when it comes to emulating the style of the movies being spoofed. New York is a major character, as pointed out a number of times, the protagonists start off by disliking one another, assorted friends are pigeonholed as nothing more than varying viewpoints for the leads to use as sounding boards, there's a montage or two, and the climax involves a bit of a race against the clock, a standard for most rom-coms.

This is all well and good, but the masterstroke comes from the fact that the movie is presented as a tale being told by Molly and Joel while they enjoy a dinner date with two friends, Karen (Ellie Kemper) and Kyle (Bill Hader). This allows for plenty of comments on the unfolding events, and also one or two details that we discover may simply be the result of overactive imaginations. 

Poehler and Rudd are both perfect in their roles, of course, and Hader and Kemper both have fun either pointing out, or sometimes missing, the obvious while being told this particular love story. Jason Mantzoukas and Melanie Lynskey play the two friends who think that they're about to bring two lovely people together to form one lovely couple, Teyonah Parris is the one woman working for Molly who also offers helpful advice, and there are a few great cameos to make you smile. Christopher Meloni is the big boss at CRS, and shows once again how great he is at comedy, Michael Ian Black is a grade-A douchebag (and a lot of fun with it), Cobie Smulders is the girl with Rudd at the very start of the movie, and Ed Helms is someone who may try to win over Poehler's character, despite not really having any chemistry with her. At all.

Not all of the gags hit, which is almost inevitable in a comedy like this, but you're never far away from something that could make you laugh out loud. Fans of those involved will certainly have a good time, and fans of romantic comedies may also find that there's still enough here to keep them amused, even as the conventions and cliches are being mocked at every turn. 

7/10

http://www.amazon.com/They-Came-Together-Christopher-Meloni/dp/B00KVFHBLK/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1415555914&sr=1-2&keywords=they+came+together



Thursday, 12 February 2015

That Awkward Moment (2014)

That Awkward Moment is a rom-com aimed at guys. It has moments of bawdiness, but at heart it's just a sappy look at how love can affect even those who try to cut themselves off from it. Buoyed by some decent central performances, this is enjoyable, if forgettable, stuff. Despite the fact that I won't seek it out for repeat viewings, I will happily watch it again if it ends up playing in the background one day while I intended to focus on something else.

Zac Efron is Jason, the seemingly typical young man who starts to blanch whenever women try to define their relationship with him. He just wants to have fun. As does his friend, Daniel (Miles Teller). His other friend, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), is settled down and happily married. Until the moment that he finds out his wife (Jessica Lucas) has been seeing someone else. Which leads to the three men hitting the town. Hard. They have an accomplice in the form of the lovely Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), a pretty female friend who seems to enjoy helping them reel in more conquests, and there's only one rule they agree upon: no relationships. Which is when Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots).

Efron, Teller and Jordan have a lot of fun here, as is made even more obvious in some amusing outtakes that appear during the end credits. I've always tended to enjoy all three actors (despite Teller annoying the hell out of me in 21 & Over - which seems to have been a blip) and they work well here, both individually and whenever onscreen together. The ladies may be dream ideals, with tacit approval being given to some behaviour most would disapprove of, but Davis and Poots both manage to make the best of their roles. They may put up with more than most, but they also put the men squarely in their place when needed. Addison Timlin is another ideal girl, basically the female equivalent of Jason, and it's interesting to note that the only main female character not shown to enjoy the "cheeky charm" of the menfolk is Lucas, who plays a bit of a baddie.

Written and directed by Tom Gormican, this is the type of film that you should know beforehand whether you're going to enjoy or not. Yes, the trailer has most of the funniest moments in it. Yes, the whole thing is predictable from start to finish. Yes, it's also pretty unbelievable (especially the plot development that concerns the character played by Davis). It's also consistently amusing, moves along at a decent clip, and strides ahead of the other main Efron comedy of last year (Bad Neighbours AKA Neighbors).

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/That-Awkward-Moment-Blu-ray/dp/B00IVLRA9E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421407623&sr=8-2&keywords=that+awkward+moment



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And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Time Lapse (2014)

Three young folks head over to check on their neighbour, only to find his apartment empty and a large camera pointing towards their own living room. The walls are adorned with photos of their place, which is more than a little strange. What's even stranger is that they eventually realise that the photos, which are always taken at the same time, show the future. This could be a great thing. All they need to do, for example, is stand at their window with a paper showing the race results. They will then have that information on the morning of the races, allowing them to place bets and win lots of money. But, as is always the case with looking into the future, things start to get tricky when the photographs show something that they don't like the look of.

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary and George Finn, this is a passable enough slice of sci-fi horror, although it's never quite interesting enough for sci-fi fans and never quite intense/svcary enough for horror fans. Others have mentioned that it's quite reminiscent of "Say Cheese And Die", a Goosebumps tale, and they have a point. But this is a concept that has been used many times before, and it's full of potential that this film doesn't really tap into.

Bradley King directed, and he also co-wrote the screenplay with Bp Cooper, so he would seem to be the man to blame. There are a number of small failings at every step, building up in a way that drags the whole movie down a few notches.

First point - the casting isn't great. I've warmed to Panabaker over the years, I guess, but still can't ever really see why she's picked for certain roles (attractiveness aside). O'Leary doesn't make an impression at all, and Finn is stuck with

Second point - some bad writing that never really gives us cause to root for the main characters. None of them seem like good people, and when they quickly allow the photos to start dictating their actions, leading to an interesting cause and effect conundrum never given due attention, it just becomes asier to dislike them. Which adds to the

Third point - lack of tension throughout. This is also caused by the use of the photos. If we have already seen what's going to happen then all we're waiting for is how it happens. This wouldn't have been a problem if there had been more time given to that aforementioned cause and effect conundrum, but there wasn't.

Yet the premise is enough to make this relatively enjoyable. It's the kind of situation that we can all dream about. We wonder what we would do in the same situation. And I suspect that many of those wonderings could end up better than this.

6/10

fff


You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Rec 4: Apocalypse (2014)

The fourth (and final?) instalment in the [*Rec] series follows on from the previous movies in the series, bringing back Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and placing her on a boat, far from any sizable population. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, as it happens, especially when scientists are trying to find a cure for the disease that caused so much bloodshed and loss of life in the other movies. There is, perhaps inevitably, a fatal mistake made, leading to an outbreak on the ship that throws poor Angela right back in to the centre of a terrifying ordeal.

After taking a step back from [*Rec] 3 Genesis, director Jaume Balaguero returns to, apparently, tie everything up with one last outing. He also helped to write the script with Manu Diez, which means I can heap most of the blame upon his shoulders for how disappointing this is. The characters aren't great, with the exception of Angela and a crew member named Nic (Ismael Fritschi), there's nothing new brought to the table, and the final reel is just something that you end up wanting over and done with. It's full of activity, but none of it is all that interesting.

That lack of anything new is the most disappointing aspect of this instalment, considering the interesting development of events that were displayed in [*Rec] 2. This movie had a chance to explore some other ideas, even if Balaguero didn't want to explain every little detail, but instead it just repeats moments that we've seen so many times before as the infection takes hold and people try to stay safe in a confined space.

Velasco is as good as she was in the first two movies, which just adds to the disappointment of this not being a good enough farewell for her character, and Fritschi makes the most of his likable character. Paco Manzanedo and Crispulo Cabezas do alright, playing a couple of soldiers who wake up on the boat after involvement in the mission to extract Angela (AKA [*Rec] 2), and Hector Colome is perfectly fine in the role of doctor/potential villain. That's about it though, nobody else makes a good impression, which leads to a number of scenes dragging the movie down whenever none of these characters are onscreen.

A disappointing horror movie is one thing. We genre fans often have a 1:1 ration when it comes to the good and the bad, and that's on a good day. But a disappointing series finale is somehow a bit worse. This isn't even a terrible film, when all things are considered. It's just not a patch on any of the films that came before it. What's worse is that it doesn't even seem to try.

5/10

http://www.amazon.com/REC-4-Apocalypse-Manuela-Velasco/dp/B00R7FQRYE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1419688876&sr=1-1&keywords=rec+4



Monday, 9 February 2015

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

If you've seen any of the Jackass movies then you've seen Johnny Knoxville made up to look like an old man. He's very convincing, thanks to the great make-up and his attitude. There were a number of sketches filmed in which Knoxville played, funnily enough, a bad grandpa. He would sit down somewhere with a young kid and allow them to drink alcohol. When taken to task, he would always make the situation worse by being downright unrepentant and clearly spoiling for a fight.

Bad Grandpa is, as you might already suspect, more of the same. It's a road movie that crafts a loosely-plotted storyline around some semi-improvisational skits, taking in a good number of innocent bystanders in the process. Knoxville is Irving Zisman, the man suddenly landed with a grandson named Billy (Jackson Nicoll). He aims to deliver Billy to his father (Greg Harris), despite the fact that the man sees his son as nothing more than a way to get his hands on an extra $600 a month. And that's all the plot that you need to create a film full of amusing stunts that range from a disastrous funeral to an altercation with some male strippers, and more besides.

If you're after something subtle and sophisticated then you're looking in the wrong place. To be fair, this was marketed as "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" as opposed to just "Bad Grandpa". I know this was mainly done for marketing purposes, but it also serves as a warning to those who dislike Knoxville and co.

The two stars do a surprisingly great job of making their characters feel very real. This could have easily been a simple selection of broad skits with no need to work on any of the linking material, but that's not the case. Knoxville and Nicoll work brilliantly alongside one another, and the biggest surprise is how genuine the fragile bond between them feels. Harris is pretty funny as the deadbeat dad who doesn't want his son with him until he's made aware of the money he could receive, and his bravery is to be commended for his behaviour in the third act (you'll have to watch it to know what I mean).

It seems redundant to mention the direction from Jeff Tremaine. Yes, the movie is put together competently. Even the footage filmed via hidden cameras is decent, with a variety of tricks used to keep the whole thing feeling more like a movie than just a set of sketches. Yet, at the end of the day, it IS little more than just a set of sketches. They're good, and one or two may make you laugh aloud, but the joke isn't enough to sustain a feature.

Watch and enjoy. You may well laugh a lot more than I did. I just doubt that this is one to revisit again and again, unlike some of the previous Jackass presentations.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Jackass-Presents-Grandpa-Unrated-Blu-ray/dp/B00G2PA0ES/ref=sr_1_3_twi_2_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1419858159&sr=8-3&keywords=bad+grandpa



Sunday, 8 February 2015

Walk Of Shame (2014)

Steven Brill isn't exactly a writer-director you may want to rely on for your comedy movie needs. He does, after all, have a filmography that includes Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Drillbit Taylor, and even a segment in Movie 43. I'm not saying that I dislike all of those films. I'm just saying that many other people dislike them. Despite how you feel about those films, Walk Of Shame still ends up being worth a watch thanks to the fact that it stars Elizabeth Banks.

Banks stars as Meghan Miles, a news reporter poised to get her dream job as an anchor. When it looks like she's lost the job, Meghan takes up an offer from her friends (Gillian Jacobs and Sarah Wright) to go out and drink lots, and LOTS, of alcohol. She ends up heading off with the cute barman (James Marsden) and they enjoy a magical night of shared booze, pizza and frolics. Waking up the next morning with a sore head, hazy memory of the events from the previous night, and a voicemail message informing her that she is now back in with a chance for the anchor job, Meghan has to get home and prepare to impress her potential new employers. Unfortunately, an incident with an aggressive cat leaves her outside with no phone, no car (it's been towed), and no knowledge of what button to buzz to wake up her new maybe-boyfriend. Things quickly go from bad to worse.

You may or may not already know that Walk Of Shame didn't do well, to put it mildly. Not well at all. It flopped hard. Which I think is a great shame. I am willing to concede that, once again, I may be the lone voice of dissent here, but this is a fun romp that wrings most of the comedy from putting the lovely Miss Banks into increasingly dire circumstances. Whether she's avoiding police who think that she's a prostitute, stuck in a crackhouse or trying to get a ride on a bus despite having no money for the fare, Banks is always a lot of fun. Jacobs, Wright and Marsden all do well as the people who end up trying to track our leading lady down, while Bill Burr and Ethan Suplee provide laughs as the police officers doing the same thing for very different reasons. Lawrence Gilliard Jr, Da'vone McDonald and Alphonso McAuley are enjoyable enough as Scrilla, Hulk and Pookie, the three main men in the crackhouse that Banks ends up in, and Kevin Nealon is a lot of fun in his small role, the traffic reporter who looks down on the action from a helicopter.

Brill doesn't do anything to set your world on fire. He keeps everything moving along, and peppers the whole thing with a selection of amusing characters and lines of dialogue. In short, he does what's required. I'm not going to spend a lot of time and energy extolling this as some kind of misunderstood modern classic. It's not. I'm just surprised that it fared quite as badly as it did. There were quite a few movies released in 2014 far more deserving of your ire than this one. Although I admit that maybe my love of Elizabeth Banks makes me slightly biased.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Walk-Shame-Blu-ray-DIGITAL-UltraViolet/dp/B00JQF7ZTE/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1420911341&sr=8-1&keywords=walk+of+shame



Saturday, 7 February 2015

Welcome To The Jungle (2013)

Jean-Claude Van Damme has never been a stranger to comedy. He's shown a good nose for it all through his career. And those Coors Light commercials were fantastic. But it's only now that he's starring in an actual live-action comedy feature, and he's unsurprisingly great in it.

The plot concerns a young man named Chris (Adam Brody) who seems to spend every day at his work being walked over by Phil (Rob Huebel) or messing up any chance to engage in conversation with the lovely Lisa (Megan Boone). So he's really not overjoyed when he and his colleagues are sent away for a weekend team-building exercise on a remote island. The whole thing is being led by Storm Rothchild (Van Damme), a man with more brawn than brains, but it's not long until he's sidelined and everything starts going a bit Lord Of The Flies.

In line with so many other comedies that you've seen before, Welcome To The Jungle is still decent fun, thanks in no small part to Van Damme, Brody and the rest of the cast. The script by first-timer Jeff Kauffmann isn't big or clever. It's content to simply be amusing. Taking a bad situation and then making it worse, the movie is set up to get our main character to a point at which he decides to take a stand.

Director Rob Meltzer has only a few other credits to his name, and none of them really seem to be of particular interest to me, but he handles this material just as well as any of the other directors working today. Indeed, his ability to limit the film to about the 95-minute mark actually puts him ahead of some people.

Brody makes for a pleasant enough lead, Van Damme is consistently hilarious (and doesn't overdo things until the material leads him to that approach in the final third), and Huebel is very easy to dislike, and also laugh at. Megan Boone makes for an okay, if somewhat bland, love interest, while Kristen Schaal, Eric Edelstein and Dennis Haysbert are among the more entertaining supporting cast members.

Not a film that will make it onto any Top 10 lists, and not even a film that you'll necessarily remember a few years down the line. This is simply a good time while it's on, nothing more and nothing less. And it's recommended to anyone who ever wanted to see Van Damme recuperating while having his ears stroked and being soothed like a pet bunny. Admit it, you're sold.

6/10

http://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Jungle-Blu-ray-DIGITAL-UltraViolet/dp/B00HVFA2TQ/ref=sr_1_2_twi_2_twi_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1420890329&sr=1-2&keywords=welcome+to+the+jungle



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And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

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As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Still Alice (2014)

Julianne Moore is Dr. Alice Howland, a linguistics professor who starts to worry when she realises that her ability to recall words seems to be diminishing. After a number of sessions with a doctor it becomes clear, although not quite believable, that she has early onset Alzheimer's disease. She has to break the news to her family, and also has to set in place a number of measures that will help her live a nirmal life for as long as possible.

This is standard stuff, very much TV-movie-of-the-week. The screenplay, by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, is based on a novel by Lisa Genova, which at least makes everything more interesting and powerful by having Alice be a linguistics professor. She arguably knows the value of individual words more than most, highlighting the deterioration of her mental acuity in the first stages of her illness.

Glatzer and Westmoreland also direct the movie together. While they don't show themselves to be experts in the field, they're smart enough to cast well and intersperse the second half of the movie with some moving moments.

Moore is excellent in the main role, as you'd expect her to be. There are one or two moments in the first half of the movie that have her repeating herself from past performances, but it's when she starts to lose aspects of her main identity that she truly shows what she's capable of. It's not up there with her best performances, in my opinion. It's still very good stuff though. Alec Baldwin puts in another great supporting turn (he's never disappointing in those roles), and Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish are two of the three grown-up children who struggle as they see their mother losing her mind. But it's the third child I'm going to spend the most time discussing. She's an aspiring actress, and still finding her place in the big world before all of her hopes and dreams are dashed. Played by Kristen Stewart, she's the best of the supporting characters, and Stewart gives perhaps the best performance in the film. Often sidelined, and often treated as if she doesn't know her own mind, she can probably see the situation that her mother is going through from a much closer perspective than anyone else around her, leading her to be the most selfless and sympathetic of the group.

It's a shame that the film just isn't a bit better. I guess it's difficult to make a movie like this feel like anything more than a well-intentioned melodrama. The cast all try hard, but can only raise it up so far. It's worth your time, and those wanting some inoffensive drama will certainly enjoy it a bit more than I did. Ultimately, it's quite forgettable, which is a tragic irony.

6/10

ggg



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Wetlands (2013)

Carla Juri plays Helen, a young woman who likes to take every opportunity available to her when it comes to exposing her ladyparts to germs and foul matter. Yes, I have to start my review this way. That's the way that Wetlands starts, and it continues to get quirkier and nastier as the story unfolds. When not trying to make the perfect aroma down there, a scent that Helen believes makes her more attractive to males, our main character is masturbating with various vegetables, fretting over her haemorrhoids, trying to get her parents back together, and spending time with her friend (Corinna, played by Marlene Kruse). The two girls are so close that they sometimes swap used tampons. Yes, you read that correctly. After a shaving accident causes an anal fissure, Helen ends up in hospital. She ends up meeting a nice nurse named Robin (Christoph Letkowski), and also sees an opportunity to forcibly reunite her divorced parents (played by Meret Becker and Axel Milberg).

Based on a novel by Charlotte Roche, Wetlands is a film that works for a little while before winding down quickly. What was initially quirky and amusing soon becomes tiresome. Director David Wnendt, who also helped to work on adapting the novel to screen with Claus Falkenberg, seems to revel in the shocking nature of the source material, piling new unpleasant detail on top of the preceding selection in a way that leads to the movie eventually collapsing like a house of cards.

Those who are easily shocked won't make it past the opening scenes, but anyone able to stomach the graphic content are eventually rewarded with the lovely moments mentioned in the first paragraph, as well as numerous scenes revolving around Helen's anus, and a memorable (for all the wrong reasons) sequence that involves five men, a pizza, and a lot of ejaculating erections.

Juri is good in the main role, helping to make the film more tolerable. Her performance is just right. She's easy to like, despite the fact that her character is undeniably very selfish and has no consideration for any consequences of her actions. Kruse is also good in her supporting role, although there's no time taken to show how the two became such firm friends, especially considering the strong bonds of  trust that develop between them. Letkowski manages to portray his character with a nice mix of innocence and worry, and Becker and Milberg both do well, considering that they're stuck with the characters that viewers are supposed to judge much more harshly than Helen.

Probably a bit too much for those after quirky drama, and probably not full of enough testing material for those who enjoy exploring more twisted tales, Wetlands is akin to the kid who picks his nose and then chases you around with the bogey. A mixture of cute, unpleasant, and never quite as entertaining as it thinks it is.

5/10

http://www.amazon.com/Wetlands-Blu-ray-Carla-Juri/dp/B00NBIH08S/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1421402445&sr=1-1&keywords=wetlands



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

John Wick (2014)

Oh boy. John Wick is jaw-droppingly good. There's no point in holding back here. This is the most fun I've had with an action movie since The Raid 2: Berandal or The Guest. Which makes 2014 a bit of a banner year for action movie fans.

Keanue Reeves plays the titular character, a skilled killer who is now retired. When one character remarks that he is made to sound like the boogeyman, another immediately corrects him. John Wick is who you would send to kill the boogeyman. So why is anyone bothered about him if he's retired? Well, a daft lad (played by Alfie Allen) decided to break into his home, beat him up a bit, kill his dog, and steal his car. And it's the death of the dog that spurs Wick back into action. The daft lad may have a powerful criminal for a father (played by Michael Nyqvist) but that won't help him. Perhaps nothing will.

I'd like to read the screenplay for John Wick, written by Derek Kolstad, because I can only imagine that there are a few pages of character set-up before eighty pages that just contain the words "Wick shoots everyone in the face" - possibly scrawled in red ink. Because that's what makes this movie so fantastic. It's not a sanitised film trying to get a more lenient rating that will allow younger viewers to check it out in cinemas. This is a violent, bloody, brilliant piece of choreography.

Chad Stahelski, and David Leitch (who co-directed and co-produced with Stahelski), can bring the pain. They obviously worked closely with the stunt team to showcase physical routines that blend cinematic magic with details and moves that feel very real. Throw a lively soundtrack on top of the frenetic action and you have an easy crowd-pleaser for action junkies.

Reeves is better than ever here, adding to his not-inconsiderable roster of classic action movie heroes with another performance that requires him to be at his very best, both physically and in terms of attitude. The fact that none of the supporting players feel completely overshadowed is testament to the efficient script and the great casting. Allen is amusing as the hot-headed youngster acting brave until in very real danger, Nyqvist is great as the man who fears and respects Wick, while also doing everything he can to protect his foolish son. Willem Dafoe may be out to help our main character, may be out to harm him. Either way, he's excellent. And Adrienne Palicki is enjoyable as a dangerous female looking to score big when a price is put on Wick's head. Lance Reddick, Ian McShane and John Leguizamo round things out nicely, all making the best of their limited screentime.

It's genuinely hard to imagine any action fan disliking this movie. Okay, animal lovers will be upset by the motivation for the main killing spree, but it's that seemingly minor plot point that also makes this such a pure, enjoyable experience. Wick is a good man capable of very bad things, and you never once feel that he's going too far when the extent of just what he's had taken away from him becomes clear.

One to see/buy as soon as possible. I know that I'm already dying to rewatch it as soon as I've finished writing this review.

9/10

http://www.amazon.com/John-Wick-Blu-ray-Keanu-Reeves/dp/B00OV3VGP0/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1421400614&sr=1-1&keywords=john+wick



You know how you can show your appreciation for bloggers? If you share and share then every additional reader helps. Connect through Google or Blogger or any way you can, and rest easy in the knowledge that you've made little ol' me a very happy man.

And/or you could also buy my e-book, that has almost every review I've written over the past 5 years. It's very reasonably priced for the sheer amount of content.

The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide

And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.