Tag Archives: Films

Empire Big Screen

Last weekend was a bit of a mad one for me. I had a wedding reception to attend on Friday, which went quite well, and it was then that a friend dropped a bombshell on me: he was attending Empire Big Screen, the 3-day annual event where they hold film premieres, secret screenings, Q+A’s with the stars and much more, as press the next day, and had a +1. Of course I bit his hand off at this opportunity, as any of you who know me will know that I’m a little bit obsessed with films.

 

Saturday comes around, I have a gargantuan hangover and have only slept for about 4 hours, but still, we make our way over to the O2, nee Millennium Dome, in Greenwich, to see what the metaphorical craic is. We make our way in, (the one thing I don’t like about the O2 is that they search you with a big metal detector, your bag goes through one as well, it’s like being at an airport. I completely understand why they do it, but it still annoys me) and make our way to the press office to collect our press passes.

 

The first thing we see once we’ve signed in, is a Q+A session with Roland Emmerich, director of, amongst other movies, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day! He wasn’t there to discuss those though, he was talking about his new film, Anonymous, which deals with the conspiracy theories that Shakespeare was not who he said he was, again, one of my favourite topics of discussion, so the film looks great, even if the Bard himself is being played by Rafe Spall, who I only know as Noel, the ‘you’ve got red on you’ guy from the Richer Sounds piss-take in Shaun of the Dead, and the Andy who wasn’t Paddy Considine from Hot Fuzz. To be honest, I can’t see how he’s anything like Shakespeare. But we’ll see!

 

Anyway, I digress, back to the Big Screen. After that we wandered round for a bit, I picked up a 12-month subscription of Empire for £20 (bargain!) and we were then offered a free screening of Troll Hunter, a film that I’d never heard about, but I am reliably informed, by both a Norwegian friend of mine, and the director and lead who had a Q+A before and after the film, that this is a Norwegian cult classic. I won’t go into much details about the film here, saving that for a later post, but let me just say that it’s pretty damn good!

 

We leave Troll Hunter happy, and are a bit bemused about what to do next. It’s getting late, and we thought that everything had finished. Oh how wrong we were, as we found out that there was a UK premiere of Cowboys and Aliens an hour away, and our passes would get us in for free! Again, Cowboys and Aliens will be dealt with in time, but let me just say that this is a proper summer blockbuster, and not to be missed!

 

Sunday wasn’t quite as eventful, mainly as we turned up super-late, meaning we missed, amongst other things, Q+A’s with Terry Giliam, Gareth Edwards (a name most of you won’t recognise, but if you have a chance, see his film Monsters, it’s great! He’s also directing the new Godzilla, which should be amazing,) a piece on how to become a screenwriter, a screening of The Guard, which is meant to be hilarious, and the premiere of Conan in 3D. Now whilst I’m genuinely gutted about missing all of them, we saw the final screening, which was the big one: the UK premiere of Fright Night, hosted by David Tennant. Again, check back here soon for my thoughts on the film itself, but I really enjoyed it. It felt like it should be a Vincent Price movie, even though it’s nearly 20 years after his last film/death. Guess that shows how much of an impact he’s had on horror films.

 

Anyway, all in all, Empire Big Screen was a great success, I really enjoyed myself, and recommend it to everyone next year!

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It’s always about The Other Guys

Having seen the trailer everywhere for this film, I had high hopes, especially considering the cast, headed by Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, but including such names as Samuel L Jackson, Michael Keaton, Dwayne Johnson and Eva Mendes, and the director and writer, Adam McKay, who, though having published mediocre comedies Step Brothers and Talladega Nights, also wrote and directed the hilarious Anchorman. The Other Guys, although slow in parts, on the whole did not disappoint.
Without giving too many plot points away (I best tag this as mild *SPOILERS* just in case) the film opens with Jackson and Johnson being shown as the best cops on the beat, and everyone else is pretty much shit compared to them, including the titular other guys, Ferrell and Wahlberg. Shortly after this, with Johnson and Jackson removed from the story in funny circumstances, Ferrell and Wahlberg are given what McKee refers to as the Call to Power, and the story moves into full force.
What follows is an hour and a half of a plot-driven story concentrating on a series of events which stem from a bank robbery, and is a voyage of discovery for our protagonists, both discovering where the paper trail leads to, and self-discovery, with both of them trying to deal with their respective demons, and over-coming their personal barriers to become good partners.
Steve Coogan also excels in this film, playing the fairly typical British billionaire who there is more to than meets the eye, and Eva Mendes plays her character as Will Ferrell’s wife well, with some funny scenes involving the two of them, and Ferrell understating her obvious beauty. The rest of the cast are faces that, although familiar, are not household names, people like Ray Stevenson, known for being Titus Pullo in Rome, Rob Riggle of Saturday Night Live fame, and Damon Wayans, Jr, who is more famous for his dad than him.
On the whole, Wahlberg and Ferrell are a combination that, on paper at least, should definitely not work. Will Ferrell is a Saturday Night Live actor who brings out amazing comedies every five years or so, and flanks those with a lot of filler crap. Mark Wahlberg is an ex-rapper (ahh Marky Mark, how we definitely don’t miss you) whose pattern of films is fairly similar to Ferrell’s, but in different genres, with his awful films (Shooter, Planet of the Apes) mixing with classics (The Departed, Boogie Nights) and watchable movies (Italian Job, as tragic as it is, We Own The Night, Three Kings.) The fact that these two polar opposite actors work together is itself testament to McKay’s skill, and the script is well-written, with moments of action throughout and some very funny sections. All in all, a surprisingly good film.

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Kick-Ass gives Spiderman his burn notice

Kick-Ass or Ass-Kick?

I’ve been looking forward to Kick-Ass for some time. Matthew Vaughn is a great director, Layer Cake and Stardust show this, and Jane Goldman has some genuine talent, much more so than her husband, given her impressive writing work on this and the afore-mentioned Stardust. Mark Strong is fast becoming one of my favourite actors, Nic Cage is a much-maligned but often good actor and there looked to be some promising young talent on show here.

I, for one, was not turned off this film by the Daily Mail claiming it was a “perniciously sexualised view of children” that “glorified violence,” mainly because I don’t trust the Daily Mail. I never have and I never will. Not to say that I’ve never read the paper, I have, and do from time to time, but I don’t like the journalism present in it, and as of late, there have been some major issues with some of their articles, notably this and the column about Stephen Gately’s death last year which was possibly one of the most offensive articles I have ever had the misfortune of reading.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Kick-Ass should definitely be watched. It’s hilarious throughout, with some British stars in it, people who you’d recognise if you’d seen Lock, Stock or Snatch, people like Dexter Fletcher, and Chloe Moretz is undoubtedly one to watch for the future, even if she does have a foul mouth on her which I imagine was top of the Daily Mail’s list of qualms about this film.

One of my reservations before I saw this film, of which there were few, was that it’s a comic book movie. Whilst I have no problem with this genre of film, given the success of Sin City and 300 to name but two alternatives to the Spiderman/Batman/Superman typical film, but critics are quick to scathe adaptations. Kick-Ass accepts the fact that it is indeed a comic book movie and throws it to the forefront of the action, not interested with being something it isn’t, and the good news is that the film was left open for a blatant sequel.

Burn Notice

So I was introduced to a new tv show by a friend recently. I’m in dire need of something to fill the gap that will be left by 24 and Lost come May 24th, and I’m gonna try various different shows until I find one.

Dexter will be reintroduced, as I’ve fallen out of favour with that, and there’s a list of others, to include re-watching The Sopranos, The Wire, and trying new shows, V and the like. Burn Notice found its way to the top of this second list. As it stands I’ve only seen the first 5 episodes of season 1, but I have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve seen.

The show revolves around Michael Westen, a spy who’s given his ‘burn notice’, essentially the espionage version of a P45, at the beginning of the show, and he’s dumped in Miami with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few close contacts, left to fend for himself whilst trying to work out who authorised the burn notice. He’s played rather brilliantly by Jeffrey Donovan, who I have disliked since I saw his obnoxious smarmy character in Hitch, with his portrayal in Changeling not much more likable. This show changed my opinion on him entirely, putting him very much in my good books. 

Other characters include Fiona, an old flame of his who happens to be in Miami at the same time as him who helps him get back on his feet, played by Gabrielle Anwar who I don’t recognise, and Sam, an old colleague of his, portrayed brilliantly by Bruce Campbell, who needs no introduction. Having picked this show up for £15 on DVD for the first series, I definitely recommend it, with the dry humour working well with the espionage genre.

And that’s it for another post.

Thanks

Matt

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Illness, Oscars and Bad Company

Hi

Following its clean-up act at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, I figured it was time that I actually got round to watching The Hurt Locker, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. From its emotional opening scene to the ongoing mental battle between arguably the two biggest leads, Jeremy Renner was great as the archetypal “bad guy” and Anthony Mackie has come a long way since his role in the much-maligned yet enjoyable 8 Mile. I’d definitely recommend seeing this film to anyone, as if the Oscars weren’t enough of an endorsement. 9/10

I’ve also been struck down by the viral infection that’s going round, so I’ve been bed-ridden for the last couple of days, so I’ve resigned to completing Bad Company 2, watching a lot of League of Gentlemen and reading about the Oscars. I’ll begin with Bad Company.

Having never played the original, but being a huge fan of the Battlefield series, especially 1942, but being disappointed with any of the Battlefield series I had the misfortune of playing on a console, I was indecisive about whether I’d play Bad Company 2 or not. I was swayed by a deal that HMV had whereby you buy the game and get afore-mentioned Hurt Locker on blu-ray for £5. The game itself is fairly enjoyable, the plot is on a par with Modern Warfare 2, with the deciding vote falling in favour of Bad Company given the damage you can cause to buildings and objects that was painfully omitted from Modern Warfare 2. Definitely worth a play. 8/10 for the single player. Multiplayer I am yet to experience, but if its half as good as MW2 then it’s a blessing!

There’s not much can be said about League of Gentlemen without seeing it, but today was the first time ever that I saw any of Series 3 and it absolutely terrified me. The rest of the show I found very enjoyable, and not scary in the slightest. But the last series frightened me something rotten. It’s still enjoyable, just in a terrifying way!

What can be said about the 82nd Academy Awards that hasn’t been said already? Not much. There were a few suprises in the Kodak Theatre on Sunday night, but no shocks. No one really expected Hurt Locker to clean up as much as it did, and yet few were shocked. I myself was happy, given that Avatar was a beautiful film, visually spectacular, but plot wise it was pretty average, with a ‘man has to infiltrate a society with deception, man meets woman, man and woman fall in love, man fights his own people as a part of new society’ plotline that, whilst not being the most overused, has certainly been done before (Dances With Wolves anyone??) As for the rest of the awards, I myself am a bit disappointed that Tarantino didn’t win any awards. Christoph Waltz definitely deserved his Best Supporting Actor win, but I felt that it maybe deserved Best Original Screenplay and maybe Best Director too, given that it is arguably his best film since Pulp Fiction. But that just shows the Academy’s bias, and Quentin’s day will come again.

I think that’s everything for the time being.

Matt

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