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Excuse me for the upcoming dry spell, laptop is broken and I'm not loving the ciao website on my phone! Open to critique, I'm still learning! Reviews mostly about movies, but sometimes other stuff too :)

Reviews written

since 19/04/2014


Carol (DVD) 31/12/2015


Carol (DVD) CAROL Starring: Cate Blanchett – Carol Aird Rooney Mara – Therese Belivet Sarah Pauls – Abby Gerhard Kyle Chandler – Harge Aird Jake Lacy – Richard Semco Directed by Todd Haynes Written by Phyllis Nagy Music by Carter Burwell Running Time: 118 minutes Genre: romantic-drama BACKGROUND As always, I feel compelled to see as many Awards season films as possible before the Oscars next February. Carol’s been on my radar since it had its UK premiere at the London Film Festival in October where it opened to excellent reviews, with the Evening Standard describing it as ‘one of the lushest, most seductive love affairs ever caught on screen’ . Though I didn’t manage to see it at the LFF, I was prompted to research the film, and found the teaser trailer online – this can be watched here: It’s set to the 40s hit ‘My Foolish Heart’, sung here by Margaret Whiting – the song really sold it for me, coupled with the lush, crisp 50s imagery. The full trailer is also available to view here: ‘Carol’ is based on the novel ‘The Price of Salt’ (which I believe has actually been renamed now to Carol) by Patricia Highsmith – I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to read the book before watching at all, nor would I say it’s one of those films that never lives up to the book – there’s subtle differences in character and plot between the two, but not so much as to anger any hard-core fans of the original novel. I ...

Five Corners (DVD) 03/08/2015

Five Corners

Five Corners (DVD) FIVE CORNERS Starring: Jodie Foster as Linda Tim Robbins as Harry John Turturro as Heinz Todd Graff as Jamie Directed by Tony Bill Written by John Patrick Shanley Running Time: 90 minutes Genre: crime-drama BACKGROUND First let it be said that I always try to watch films from an objective perspective and even if they aren't to my own tastes, I try and see how others may like them, so the fact that I actually gave this one star should say a lot. I bought this in Poundland (maybe that was a sign of the film's quality come to think of it..) after seeing Jodie Foster's face on the front cover - being a huge fan of her work in other great films, such as her Oscar-winning roles in 'The Accused' and 'The Silence of the Lambs', I figured this might just be worth watching. A co-star of hers in the film, Tim Robbins, has also gone on to critical success, starring in iMDBs tops film, 'The Shawshank Redemption', and winning an Oscar for Clint Eastwood's crime-drama, 'Mystic River'. The film's director, Tony Bill, was unkown to me til now - his other films, though I haven't watched them had very limited success and little praise, however he was a co-producer on 'The Sting', for which he won an Academy Award. 'Five Corners' is, to my surprise, penned by a Pulitzer, Oscar and Tony-award winning writer, John Patrick Shanley, who may be best known for his work on 'Moonstruck' starring Cher. So, with such an award-laden team as this, you may find yourself asking the question - how can ...

Bugsy Malone - Sing-Along Edition (DVD) 30/07/2015

Bugsy Malone - Sing-a-long edition

Bugsy Malone - Sing-Along Edition (DVD) BUGSY MALONE Starring: Scott Baio - Bugsy Malone Florrie Dugger - Blousey Brown John Cassisi - Fat Sam Jodie Foster - Tallulah Martin Lev - Dandy Dan Directed by Alan Parker Written by Alan Parker Music by Paul Williams Running Time: 89 minutes BACKGROUND 'Bugsy Malone' is in many ways similar to other gangster films (though I'm no expert), however there's 3 key differences: -Bugsy's cast is played entirely by children -instead of bullets, they fire custard from 'splurge guns' -it's a musical The film was inspired by an idea from the director, Alan Parker's oldest son, who suggested using a 'cast of only children' - though the singing voices of the cast are actually those of adults. The film was released on 1976, and made £1.8 million against a budget of around £1 million (source: NEW YORK OR CHICAGO? So, I'm slightly confused as to where the film is actually set - on the film's page at Wikipedia, it claims that the film is set in Chicago, however the back of the DVD claims it's New York in 1929. I didn't see any giveaway hints in the film that it should be either, so I'm going with the DVD cover and saying it's New York - it hardly matters, but that confused me a little. SYNOPSIS Set in the prohibition era, the film introduces Fat Sam, a gangster and owner of 'Fat Sam's Speakeasy'. Though the gangster rivalry between Fat Sam, and his opponent Dandy Dan is a key storyline, we focus on Bugsy Malone, a somewhat cleaner friend of Sam's, who falls for a ...

Philadelphia (DVD) 24/07/2015


Philadelphia (DVD) PHILADELPHIA Starring: Tom Hanks - Andrew Beckett Denzel Washington - Joe Miller Antonio Banderas - Miguel Alvarez Jason Robards - Charles Wheeler Mary Steenburgen - Belinda Conine Joanne Woodward - Sarah Beckett Robert Castle - Bud Beckett Directed by Jonathan Demme Written by Ron Nyswaner Running Time: 120 minutes Genre: drama BACKGROUND 'Philadelphia' is, according to Wikipedia, 'one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia'. It is inspired by, but not wholly based on, the Geoffrey Bowers case (Bowers family actually sued the producers of the film on realising the similarities). The film opened in 1993 to much acclaim from critics, and has remained a significant film since then. The film grossed £133 million ($206 mil) against a budget of £16.8 million ($26 mil). (source: SYNOPSIS We're introduced to Andrew Beckett, a successful lawyer in Philadelphia, USA, who has just been promoted. Initially, his homosexuality is hidden from the audience, and indeed his employers, but when his boyfriend is introduced, it not only becomes apparent that he's gay, but also that he's suffering from something, with lesions (these look like dark bruises) visible on his face and body Andrew is soon fired from his law firm despite the fact that it had been shown that he was very capable, as well as popular among his colleagues. The firm claimed that he had lost a vital piece of paperwork, however he's sure he made no ...

Still Alice (DVD) 22/07/2015

Still Alice

Still Alice (DVD) STILL ALICE Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, Shane McRae Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland Written by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland Running Time: 101 minutes BACKGROUND When 'Still Alice' premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, it instantly created a buzz and there was one name on everybody's lips: Julianne Moore. It seemed that even then, months before the Academy Awards, she was poised to finally win a well-deserved and inevitable Oscar for Best Actress. Julianne Moore has long been a favourite actress of mine, and of many others, with many superb roles to date including 'The Kids Are All Right', 'The Hours' and 'Far from Heaven', but it's her role as Alice Howland that she will be remembered for. 'Still Alice' is based on the novel of the same name by Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist. The novel gained popularity, selling over two million copies, and is here adapted for the silver screen. The movie 'Still Alice' first premiered, as mentioned above, at TIFF. It was then released in the USA on December 5th 2014, and the UK on March 6th 2015. It grossed $42 million (£26.8 million) against a budget of $5 million (£3.2 million).* SYNOPSIS (from google): "Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. When words begin to escape her and she starts becoming lost on her daily jogs, Alice must come face-to-face with a devastating ...

The Great Gatsby (2013) (Blu-Ray) 22/07/2015

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (2013) (Blu-Ray) THE GREAT GATSBY Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher Directed by Baz Luhrmann Written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce - based on the classic novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald Running Time: 142minutes Genre: epic-romantic-drama SYNOPSIS For those of you who haven't either read the novel, or seen one of it's many adaptations, The Great Gatsby is summarised on the DVD case as follows: 'It’s the spring of 1922 in New York City, a decadent playground of shifting morals, glittering jazz, bootleg empires and skyrocketing stocks. Chasing the American Dream, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Golden Globe® nominee Tobey Maguire) arrives from the Midwest only to land next door to Jay Gatsby (three-time Oscar® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), a mysterious millionaire whose estate overflows with endless parties. As Nick’s beautiful cousin Daisy (Oscar® nominee Carey Mulligan) and her blue-blooded husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) fall into Gatsby’s orbit, Nick bears witness to a tragedy of impossible love and incorruptible dreams.' REVIEW Baz Luhrmann has always been famous for his visually stunning films, being known for such colourful romantic epics like 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Australia', and 'Gatsby' is no different - he takes full advantage of the vibrant 20s jazz scene as well as the flapper costumes. Every single party scene, especially the huge ones at Gatsby's house, are completely engulfing - you'll wish you ...

Struck By Lightning (DVD) 22/07/2015

Struck By Lightning

Struck By Lightning (DVD) STRUCK BY LIGHTNING Starring: Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Rebel Wilson, Christina Hendricks, Sarah Hyland, Polly Bergen, Carter Jenkins Directed by Brian Dannelly'' Written by Chris Colfer Running Time: 80 minutes Genre: comedy-drama BACKGROUND Chris Colfer is best known for his role as the shiny, sassy and homosexual Kurt Hummel from the hit TV show 'Glee', where he gained intense popularity with teenage girls worldwide - for his performance he won a Golden Globe, and was also listed as one of Time's 100 most influential people. Midway through the show, he wrote, starred in and produced this: his first feature film as a writer. Considering Colfer was just 21 during shooting, and besides 'Glee', had little experience in the industry, this could be practically considered a student film - only with an all-star cast including Emmy-award winner Allison Janney, and veteran performer, the now late Polly Bergen, as well as a $1.3 million budget. Colfer has said in many interviews that he occasionally drew on his own experiences in high school, and that the central character, Carson Phillips (who Colfer plays) is based on a more extrovert version of himself. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on 21st April 2012, and was later on released in the US - it fared poorly at the box office, making just $28,378 against a $1.3 million budget. In a strangely backwards fashion, Colfer adapted the film into a book after the film's release. The book currently has a rating of ...

Boyhood (DVD) 12/02/2015

Boyhood - simplicity at its best

Boyhood (DVD) BOYHOOD Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater Directed by Richard Linklater Written by Richard Linklater Running Time: 165 minutes BACKGROUND So, everyone has been talking about Boyhood this awards season - it's up for all the best Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes and has already swept up many other awards. But why are the critics fawning over this film? Here's why: In 2002, Richard Linklater assembled a cast to play his movie-family, including a seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane to play the main role. The cast filmed the movie for a couple of days every year 12 years, and the result? An incredible story of a boy growing up right before your eyes. The list of things that could have gone wrong with the film is extensive (it's said that Linklater asked Hawke to complete the film should he die during filming) - but they didn't, which is a small miracle in itself. The film is crafted and edited in such a way that it turns the simple story of growing up into a groundbreaking, cinematic masterpiece, as well as a thoroughly enjoyable film. SYNOPSIS **this synopsis covers the entire film, so don't read if you don't want too, however the film has no suspense so there aren't actually any real spoilers We start in 2002 - Mason Jr is 6 years old, living with his Mother, Olivia, and older sister, Samantha, in Texas. A poor family, Olivia moves them to Houston so she can study and earn a better living. Mason's Father, Mason Sr, also lives in Texas, ...

Whiplash (DVD) 02/02/2015

Whiplash - 'The road to greatness can take you to the edge'

Whiplash (DVD) WHIPLASH Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons Directed by Damien Chazelle Written by Damien Chazelle Running Time: 106 minutes *mild spoiler in rating section SYNOPSIS 'Whiplash' stars Miles Teller as Andrew Neimann, a young drummer at the renowned Shaffer music school in . Whilst rehearsing as an alternate, Terrence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons), a formidable yet respected conductor enters to see if anyone is worthy of joining his elitist jazz group, and Andrew is selected. Before Andrew's first rehearsal, Fletcher is reassuring him, telling him to ignore the rest of the band and only try his best, however, when Andrew can't perfect his tempo during the song 'Whiplash', Fletcher becomes physically and emotionally abusive, hurling a chair at Andrew, using discriminative language (as he does with all his students) and making him cry. Rather than being discouraged, Fletcher's treatment of him only forces him to persevere. He practices obsessively every day until his hands bleed, and breaks up with his girlfriend, Nicole, believing she will only serve as a distraction. Andrew accompanies the group to a jazz competition as an alternate to core drummer Carl, however Andrew misplaces Carl's sheet music for 'Whiplash', and Fletcher is forced to use Andrew as he can now play the song from memory. This doesn't seem to be enough for Fletcher, who brings in Ryan Connolly as a new core drummer. However, Ryan struggles with the impossibly fast tempo of 'Caravan', and Fletcher ...

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (DVD) 01/02/2015

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn - just don't bother

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (DVD) The Angriest Man in Brooklyn Starring: Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Melissa Leo Directed by Phil Alden Robinson Genre: comedy-drama Running Time: 83 minutes SYNOPSIS Robin Williams stars as Henry Altmann, the 'Angriest Man in Brooklyn' - after a frustrating start to his day, Henry goes to his doctors appointment, where his usual doctor has been replaced by Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis). Sharon tells Henry that his scan reveals a brain aneurysm, causing Henry to grow more and more angered, demanding to know how long he has to live. Frustrated by Henry's lack of calm, Sharon purposefully misdiagnoses him in the spur of the moment with just 90 minutes to live. Henry, thinking his life will be cut short, hurries out of the hospital to try and make up with his estranged family, and die peacefully. Meanwhile, Sharon rushes to try and find Henry and correct her mistake. We learn more about both characters' history as the film goes on. CRITICS IMDb: 5.6/10 RottenTomatoes: 10/100 Metacritic: 21/100 REVIEW I bought this film, as I think many will, to see one of Robin Williams' last performances on film - I'd heard about it before, and had no expectations. I'm sure people will watch it also because of its cast, consisting of Robin Williams, Mila Kunis and Melissa Leo - however, even a stellar, Oscar-winning cast couldn't save this drab ship from sinking. I found that this film wasn't dramatic enough for a drama, nor funny enough for a comedy - yet it's genre is stated as a ...

Nell (DVD) 26/01/2015


Nell (DVD) Nell Starring: Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson Directed by Michael Apted Running Time: 113 minutes SYNOPSIS After her mother dies, Nell, the titular character, is discovered by Dr Jerome Lovell living alone in an isolated forest. Jerome discovers that Nell is not socialised - she speaks her own language, and it's evident from the way she acts that the only interaction she's had have been with her mother. Intrigued by Nell, Jerome seeks the help of Dr Paula Olsen, a researcher who works with autistic children, to study and connect with her. Together, the two doctors spend 3 months trying to interact with Nell, and Jerome manages to decipher her language which is, in fact, a distorted version of the English language which she learnt from her Mother. It's also discovered that Nell was conceived after rape, and has been taught by her Mother that all men are bad, and that Nell once had a twin sister, who's decomposed skeleton is found in the forest. When the rest of the world discover Nell, and she is lead into civilisation, will the authorities let her remain in isolation. ACTING Jodie Foster (Nell) is, as she seems to be in every film, dedicated entirely to her performance. I'm amazed at how she was able to develop a character which seems to be so accurate, and yet I can only imagine how hard it is to find where to start with developing a character that has never met with society. Her language and actions are all entirely convincing, and she brings true naivety ...

The Theory of Everything (DVD) 20/01/2015

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything (DVD) THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Directed by James Marsh Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson, Written by Anthony McCarten Running Time: 123 minutes Genre: romantic-biographical-drama STORY 'The Theory of Everything' tells the story of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), the famous British physicist, on his journey of love, science and how he learned to live with a debilitating illnesss: motor neuron disease. We start off in Cambridge, where a young, healthy and gifted Stephen meets Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), an arts student - they fall in love. Stephen invests himself in the relationship, and though he keeps his interest in science alive, his work ethic slips. His muscles fail him whilst walking, and after a nasty fall, a doctor tells him that he has MND, and has around two years to live. After discovering this, Stephen becomes isolated and anti-social, and spends almost all his time in his room, until Jane tells him that she loves him. She talks with his parents, and pledges to stay with him, even if they only have a little time together. the two get married, and although Stephen's body gradually becomes less able, his mind is only venturing further into scientific theories. As the Hawking family grows, and Stephen grows weaker, will Jane be able to cope with the responsibility and commitment? ACTING The film features two of the most notable performances of the year, from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the two lead roles. Though advertising ...

Jersey Boys (DVD) 19/01/2015

Jersey Boys (film)

Jersey Boys (DVD) JERSEY BOYS Directed by Clint Eastwood Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice Running Time: 129 minutes Genre: musical-biographical-drama STORY 'Jersey Boys' is a new movie from Clint Eastwood, based on the hit Broadway musical. It tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their scrappy, humble beginnings in New Jersey, through to fame and fortune, followed by the eventual split of the band. Like the musical, the film is formatted in four 'seasons', each one narrated by a different band member - Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda). We start off in 1951, with Nick, Tommy, and Tommy's brother Nicky performing as 'The Variety Trio'. We're also introduced to their friend, a 16-year-old Frankie Valli, who's already known for his unique singing voice, and has earned the approval and friendship of local gangster, Angelo 'Gyp' DeCarlo (Christopher Walken). Tommy spends 6 months in prison, after a group robbery which Frankie was involved with, he decides to let Frankie into the band as lead singer. After Nicky leaves, the band is in need of a songwriter - Tommy is introduced (by actor, Joe Pesci) to a young Bob Gaudio. Frankie and Bob get on well, each admiring the others talent, and despite Tommy's reluctancy, Bob joins the band, and 'The Four Seasons' is born. The ...

The Kids Are All Right (DVD) 22/12/2014

The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right (DVD) THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson Directed by Lisa Cholodenko Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg Running Time: 107 minutes Genre: Comedy-Drama STORY 'The Kids Are All Right' tells the story of Nic and Jules, a lesbian couple, and their two teenage children, Joni and Laser, who are born, one to each mother, through sperm donor. They seem like a typical, healthy Californian family, until Laser grows curious as to who his biological Father is, and arranges to meet him with Joni. They find out he's called Paul, and is easy-going, rides a Harley Davidson, and leads a laid-back Bohemian lifestyle - he's also interested in being a part of their lives. The moms grow suspicious of their children's behaviour - especially Laser's, who they think has started an experimental, gay relationship with his unstable friend, Clay. On discovering they've met their Father, they insist on inviting him round to dinner, where he clicks with Jules, but clashes with Nic. As he becomes a bigger part of everyone's lives, throwing the family off balance, it's Nic who suffers most. Jules, who's started a landscaping business, begins helping Mark with his garden, and the two develop an intimate relationship. He spends more and more time with the kids too, and Joni begins to let loose more because of his influence, while Laser seems to benefit from a Father figure in his life. But can Nic handle ...

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 09/12/2014

'The Hunger Games: Mockingay Part 1'

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 The Hunger Games: Mockingay Part 1 Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland Directed by Francis Lawrence Running Time: 123 minute *SPOILER IN RATING SECTION SYNOPSIS The third 'Hunger Games' installment, brings a new political element to the series. After the last games, shown in the second film, Katniss Everdeen has been brought to the new 'District 13' - an underground district, full of people rebelling against the Capitol and it's extreme, fascist ruler, President Snow. We discover that Peeta was left behind in the arena, and is now being used cruelly by the Capitol as a spokesboy. In return for Peeta's immunity in District 13, Katniss agrees to become the Mockingjay - a symbol of hope and rebellion for the other districts. REVIEW As far as film series' go, this is right up there with the likes of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. If you're looking for a subtle, avant-garde, dramatic piece of Oscar-bait then maybe this isn't quite for you, but as far as Hollywood blockbusters go, you could do a lot worse than see this powerful sequel. ACTING Jennifer Lawrence, as always, gives a passionate, stubborn performance as the films gutsy heroine, and will no doubt get some MTV awards season glory next year. Julianne Moore who played President Coin, who was new in the series, gave a solid, concise performance, and ensured her character's presence was felt. The ...
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