As a fan of low-budget independent films (especially British ones), and also a major Doctor Who geek, it was inevitable that I would cross paths with A Dozen Summers.
Made on a budget that might cover a Hollywood film's hotel expenses for one evening, this delight puts twin sisters (on-screen and in real life) centre stage, in a tale of two 12 year-olds coping with school and family life.
While this summary may sound a bit dull, the film is anything but that, with the writer and director Kenton Hall delivering the story in a rather unique way.
Kicking off with narrator Colin Baker and roving camera, initially following two other much younger schoolgirls, in a mock wildlife documentary fashion, the film is promptly hijacked by Maisie and Daisy McCormack, who decide that the initial project is too boring and that a movie about their lives would be far more interesting!
From that opening scene onwards, we are plunged into the world and imagination of Maisie and Daisie, as we see the problems they face at school and at home, interspersed with a series of offbeat, and often very funny, fantasy sequences, with nods to various classic and popular films along the way.
The witty script also deals with serious topics, such as bullying and parental separation, but does so in a way that the humour, charm and vibrancy of the story is always at the forefront.
The performances of the twins Scarlet and Hero are natural, believable, and often amusing, while the parents played by Kenton Hall and Sarah Warren deliver scene-stealing moments with their quirky humour.
Like all micro-budget films, because of the financial, and therefore time, restrictions, there are some technical blips, perhaps the sound recording could have been better in a few scenes, and the editing tighter, but that's a minor rock in a sea of pleasures.
For British viewers familiar with the children's shows Grange Hill and Tracy Beaker, there's common territory in A Dozen Summers, only with much more humour and a delightful whimsical style.
So overall A Dozen Summers gets a solid 8/10 for me. I look forward to seeing more from Kenton Hall in the future!
There's a lot going for this film. It's well directed and has a certain style. The animation sequences are quite beautiful, and the film's music soundtrack is very good.
However the film's bleakness and the lack of sympathy I felt towards the main characters ruined the overall appreciation of the film.
The four leads, Dominik, his parents, Beata and Andrzej, and Sylwia, are all horrible, selfish, people.
Dominik is a spoilt brat, an only child, spoon fed in life he childishly throws tantrums when he doesn't get his own way.
He is soon led into a world of madness by Sylwia, an immature and mentally unstable girl, who thinks the world revolves around her and her suicidal thoughts.
Beata and Andrzej are too wrapped up in their work to be good and attentive parents, and when they're not cheating on each other and finally realise Dominik need help, their rudeness to the psychiatrists who offer their services is appalling.
When you have a film which serves up such unappealing characters there is no emotional investment, I really couldn't care if they all lived or died.
Having said that, I will watch out for director Jan Komasa's next film, he shows great promise.
Just watched The Cabin In The Woods, I knew nothing about it and it was a real surprise.
I've watched a lot of horror films over the last 35 years and this one combines elements of some of my all-time favourites such as The Evil Dead, Hellraiser and Suspiria. While I wouldn't put The Cabin In The Woods in the same bracket at those classics it's not that far short.
The cast, including Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, seem to be having a fun time in amongst all the nonsense, and the cameo at the end introducing The Director put a huge smile on my face.
Once hell is released on earth, and all the monsters/demons/zombies are released from their cages/rooms. it really is great to see such a horror film fanboy's wish-list of mayhem and destruction on screen.
While it's a real mishmash of films gone by, The Cabin In The Woods certainly one of the most entertaining horror films of the last decade, and well worth a look for horror fans who appreciate a fast-paced action-packed film, with some WTF moments and plenty of laughs along the way.
I can't fault the visual style of Trick 'r Treat, it really captures the essence of Halloween in the USA. It also has Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin and the legend that is Brian Cox, so three big plusses there.
So what makes this anthology film such a dog's dinner, a movie of missed opportunities? I think it's because the narrative is such a mess, oh don't get me wrong, there's some genuine fun and gruesome moments to be had, I love the conclusion to the Anna Paquin storyline (nice twist) and the pumpkin monster in Brian Cox's house is terrific, but overall it's like looking at a jigsaw puzzle with a lot of pieces in the wrong place.
I don't have a problem with films where scenes are out of sequence, the jumping of timelines, but even when pieces are out of order there has to be a certain logic to their disorder (if that makes any sense!) and here's it's a mess, even when the parts do all click into place by the end. Perhaps it's also the editing of the film in terms of sequencing that is not right.
Plus the pacing is poor at times, the school bus in the quarry lake segment could of lost several minutes easily, and was also the weakest story of the film, despite being pivotal to the conclusion.
If you want to see a film that's a really good example of a narrative with fragmented segments coming together perfectly, I recommend Greg Marcks 11.14, which has an excellent ensemble cast including Hilary Swank, Patrick Swayze, Ben Foster, Henry Thomas and Barbara Hershey.
I love anthology films and really wanted to like Trick 'r Treat, but I'm afraid this one let me down. 5/10
I despair for the British horror film genre. I really do.
In the space of just a few weeks I've watched this and Dead Cert, two prime examples of films that had promising premises but totally ballsed it up with inept direction and editing, lousy dialogue and rounded off with some truly pathetic acting.
I grew up in the 60's and 70's watching delights such as The Abominable Dr Phibes, Dr Terror's House of Horrors, Asylum, From Beyond The Grave, Tales From The Crypt, Frightmare, House of Whipcord, Scream and Scream Again, Theatre of Blood and many more.
These films had real actors, decent scripts, filmmakers who knew and understood the genre, not fly-by-nights trying to make a quick buck by dolling out any old rubbish.
Apart from Severance I haven't seen a decent British horror film in ages, and if today's filmmakers keep serving up crap like The Last Seven then my despair looks set to continue.
I've just finished watching all 44 episodes over the last six weeks.
Have to say, as someone who's enjoyed TV sci-fi since the mid 60's, I thoroughly enjoyed the series, a few completely mental/daft episodes, but overall very watchable, in the same way I enjoyed V in the 80's, don't take the 4400 seriously, kick back and enjoy!
Hat tip to all those involved but a massive thanks to Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Patrick Flueger, Jeffrey Combs and Billy Campbell, oh and Megalyn Echikunwoke - a decent actress who looks so sexy!
Shame there's no more but the final episode of season 4 wrapped most ends up, with just a few outstanding questions which no doubt will be discussed and debated for years to come.
If you can get the DVD boxset of the entire series at a good price, you won't regret it.
An irresponsible film promoting a lifestyle of a bygone age
Let me say from the outset, I think football hooligans are cretins, neanderthal morons of the lowest order, and those who still persist in this kind of behaviour (thankfully not so many these days) have nothing to do with the beautiful game, they are not "fans" just thugs.
Nick Love's The Football Factory is nothing but a glamourising advert for sickening violence and thuggish behaviour.
Apart from the Dudley Sutton character, I had no sympathy for any of the others, it really was a film with few redeeming features, and now that Love has remade The Firm I wonder if he is only capable of making films that promote violence An irresponsible film, only enjoyed by those with a caveman mentality.
Delving through the DVD shop I picked this up, from the cover I though it was some trashy straight-to-video rubbish that a company like Troma had put out, but when I read the credits on the back I thought it was worth a punt, as I had enjoyed Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers, and with a cast including Adrian Lester, Sean Pertwee, Rick Warren, Malcolm McDowell and Bob Hoskins, why not give it a go?
I have to admit all the voice-over at the beginning really annoyed me, I thought hello, low, low budget so they have to cover the cracks with loads of explanations instead of showing what actually happened.
But finally, after about 15 mins, when the team go in on their mission, a smile appeared on my face which got wider and wider as the film progressed, and as the story got more and more insane.
With nods to Escape From New York, Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) and 28 Days Later, amongst others this is the one of the best British action film I've ever seen, fast and furious.
Ludicrous? Yes! Nuts? Yes! A action-packed thrill-ride worthy of your money? You bet! 8/10
Finally caught up with A Wedding last night and love it!
Robert Altman films can be hard work at times, and others you just get pulled into straight away.
A Wedding is an instant attraction, a real delight, full of some great characters, and many funny one-liners, the first hour is a real chuckle, the second hour gets down to more serious issues, but if you've ever been to a wedding (and who hasn't?) you will identify with many moments from this.
Some really great performances especially from Carol Burnett, the housewife with a moral dilemma, Howard Duff, the lecherous alcoholic doctor, Viveca Lindfors, the nutty guest, and Geraldine Chaplin as the very irritating wedding planner.
Robert Carlyle, yes him of Trainspotting, Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later, (this ten line minimum to get this review printed is a fecking joke for members who, like me, have been members for years)is one of my favourite actors, and he does a decent job in this slow-moving but at times stylish British detective thriller as DI Monroe.
Story wise, it's not as good as the best Inspector Morse stories, but it still grips you from beginning to end, some scenes are quite frightening, it's well shot and edited.
The script isn't perfect, how many times do they travel back and forth to London? Nevertheless if you see this DVD in your shop to buy or rent, it's worth a look.
I have to admit I have a soft spot for road movies, Vanishing Point, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Duel, The Road Warrior (Max Max 2), Paris Texas, The Hitcher (original), Cold Fever, The Straight Story, The World's Fastest Indian, and others that have escaped my mind for now, well to that list, you can now add Bonneville.
It's lightweight entertainment compared to those films above, but for anyone who has been on a cross-country trek, by car or by hitchhiking, then this film is for you.
The three leads are terrific, Jessica Lange, Joan Allen and Kathy Bates, ably supported by Tom Skerrit, the landscapes are wonderful and by the end of this film I had a large smile on my face.
Heartwarming and life-affirming, I recommend this film.
I'm an Englishman living in Poland, since 2002 until this review in 2008.
I've had six years in this very friendly country, and I have heard many accounts of what happened at Katyn from those families who lost their grandfathers/fathers.
This film deserves to be seen. The last 15 minutes are truly shocking, but the true Polish spirit is indomintable - they never give in - through Katyn - through Auschwitz - through hundreds years of wars - the Polish spirit and strength has survived, and will always survive.
Andrej Wajda is Poland's most famous film director, his father was murdered in Katyn, after many acclaimed films he won an "honary" Oscar for his contribution to world cinema.
On receiving his Oscar he said:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will speak in Polish because I want to say what I think and feel and I always thought and felt in Polish.
I accept this great honor not as a personal tribute, but as a tribute to all of Polish cinema.
The subject of many of our films was the war, the atrocities of Nazism and the tragedies brought by communism.
This is why today I thank the American friends of Poland and my compatriots for helping my country rejoin the family of democratic nations, rejoin the Western civilizations, its institutions and security structures.
My fervent hope is that the only flames people will encounter will be the great passions of the heart-love, gratitude and solidarity.
I first saw this film in the cinema in the UK in 1974, at the tender age of 12, and although much of its adult themes obviously flew over my head, I do remember that I enjoyed it, even though I remembered very little about the film.
Fast forward to October 30th 2007, watching Papillon on DVD for the first time since 1974.
What a delight, what an utter revelation, a film of great depth, covering themes far reaching for anyone who has "lived a bit" :) While McQueen is excellent in this, the solitary confinement part of the film is just classic cinema, Hoffman, a young man at the time, plays this middle-aged counterfeiter with such conviction, with so many deft touches, that yes I believed his character was about 40 years old.
The locations, the music, the photography all add to making Papillon a great experience.
If you can get the film in it's original widescreen format then treat yourself, it really is another excellent example of American 70's cinema at its best.
Welcome to Even Money, a strictly, by-the-numbers, connect the dots, type of film that has very little to recommend it.
Everybody seems to be sleepwalking it, borrowing character elements from their previous films.
Tim Roth plays a vicious gangster. Oooh original. Danny De Vito a failed magician who dreams of the bigtime. Yawn. Kim Basinger a mother with gambling problems, whittling away the family savings. Done how many times before in TV movies? Oh and Forest Whitaker has to ask his basketball prodigy brother to throw games so he can cancel his debt with the loan sharks, wow that's novel.
And then we have Kelsey Grammar with a plastic nose and face to match, that distracted me so much from his character, every time he appeared I kept thinking what's Kelsey Grammar doing with the dodgy nose? I forgot who he was meant to be.
People are comparing this with Crash - why? Different director and very poor writer, and a plot that isn't anywhere near as intertwined as people think.
A very simple, unoriginal film, with NOTHING to commend it. Avoid.
Fun Edward G Robinson vehicle to pass the time with, in which he plays a respectable family man, John Ingram, an oil industry fire fighter, with a dark secret, only to be blackmailed by his original nemesis, sent back to a chain gang prison for a crime he didn't commit, and eventually escaping once more, seeking vengeance.
Gene Lockart steals the film as Robinson's enemy, Bill Ramey, a slimy piece of work on a mission to ruin Ingram's life, and if you add hideous performances from Guin Williams, as a moronic family friend called Moose, yes I kid you not, and Bobs Watson playing the most nauseating brat of all time, as Ingrams son, you have the perfect B movie.
Loved the boiled egg and toast gag in the opening sequence!
Finally got a chance to catch up with the recent Starsky and Hutch film today on cable TV - oh dear.
Okay I knew that it was going to be a spoof on the original series, I just didn't expect it to be so unfunny. I generally have enjoyed other Wilson/Stiller films, but come on folks, only two funny scenes during the entire film?
It wasn't even a good parody of the original series, or 70's American cop shows for that matter. Todd Phillips, born 1970 therefore too young to appreciate Starsky and Hutch first time around, obviously didn't do his homework properly, so the film has many missed opportunities.
Stiller seems to have done his homework on Paul Michael Glaser's characterisation of Dave Starsky, but Wilson just didn't bother, dumping David Soul's original interpretation entirely, for his own bland version.
If you're going to come with up with a different version of a well-loved character, at least do what Snoop Dogg did with the Huggy Bear role, make it fresh and fun to watch!
Even the original series had more moments to smile at than this lamentable effort.
I've given it 2/10, instead of the zero it truly deserves, only for Snoop Dogg's Huggy Bear and the nostalgic flashbacks seeing that red torino with the white stripes back on the road.
Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, don't worry about these pitiful pretenders, you two will always be - the real Starsky and Hutch!
Watched this film late last night and it blew my socks off! It's an indie American film, made in 2003, which starts with a drunk-driver hitting, what he thinks is a deer, but it's a person (dead or alive before he hit it?), then while he's trying to stash the body in his boot, a police car rolls up, but the officer's got other problems to deal with, like two suspects in the backseat of the car, involved in a store robbery at the same time as the crash, and yet somehow there's a connection between the crash and the robbery, and a few other bizarre incidents all around 11:14 pm.
Through four flashbacks, we see four events that happen the same time as the crash, all are inter-related, by event, or by some of the same characters, it's a jigsaw puzzle of a film, be patient, you'll be confused at first, by the time the end credits roll, you'll be grinning from ear to ear. It's a dark, dangerous, delirious black comedy/thriller.
Hilary Swank, Barbara Hershey, Henry Thomas, Patrick Swayze are the familiar faces to regular cinephiles, but there's some great performances too from the other morally dubious characters.
A True Hitchcockian film for modern audiences - spoilers
I finally caught up with this film today, and despite its flaws, this is a film the late, great, Alfred Hitchock would have been proud of.
Forget the lack of realism, this film had all the hallmarks of a typical Hitchcock film, with the added bonus of a modern day Hollywood action/car chase/stunt finale.
The set up is simple, a kidnap story, after the initial set-up, we cut between three parts of the same interlinking story/dilemma, the hostage wife and her kidnapper, the kidnapped child and an accomplice, the kidnapper's wife and the victim's husband. Pure Hitchcock set up.
The final 30 mins is as unreal a set up as you would believe, but as a disbelieving viewer we don't care, the scene where the hero has to cut out his airplane engine to talk to his wife's kidnapper, to make him believe he is still back in a hotel room, is as daft and audacious as any Hitchcock moment. The final crash on the highway is a great stuntwork/action set-up.
I'm not saying Trapped is as great as Psycho or Rear Window, but it's no more daft or less enjoyable/realistic than North by Northwest.
Despite the misleading trailer, this is an excellent, intelligent film
I can understand why this film has polarised audiences. It's twist in the final reel is something you will gladly accept or angrily dismiss.
The trailer unfortunately is pitched at a horror/suspense audience when ultimately the film is an intelligent look at how some members of society long for the safety and seclusion of a world cut off from modern life.
Everything about this film is quality, Roger Deaking's stunning visuals, Shyamalan's crafty and suspenseful direction, superb performances, particularly Bryce Dallas Howard.
Despite having worked out the "twist" within 15 minutes of The Sixth Sense, I've all enjoyed all Shyamalan's films, yes even Unbreakable, and if you enjoyed his previous three films then expect once more to be taken on a journey with more than a few surprises.
Another example of intelligent film-making that despite being pitched at an 18-30 audience through its misleading trailer, will probably be more enjoyed by us folks older than that age range, who enjoy films dealing with mature themes.