Tuesday, 3 March 2015

White God is out now in UK cinemas

If you live anywhere near London, you can now catch White God at a variety of cinemas in the capital. I first saw White God at Cannes in 2014 where it was my favourite film of the festival, and I then saw it again later in the year at the London Film Festival when I reviewed it for Starburst Magazine. My review of White God is here and my interview with the director and writer is here.

I don't know how long the film will remain in cinemas but it seems to be on at a few different places in London over the next week or so. I'm sure it will be coming to an independent art-house cinema near you, so don't miss it!


Here is the trailer:



Monday, 2 March 2015

Watch the original Whiplash short film

Before Whiplash was a Best Picture nominee and Oscar winner in three categories, it was an 18 minute short. Directed by Damien Chazelle and still starring that furious (and now Oscar winning) performance from J.K. Simmons, the short is basically a sequence from the full film, but without Miles Teller. If you can't afford a ticket to the real thing, or your not sure if the film is quite your tempo, then give the short a watch and see where it all began.


Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Cosmic Ballet Goes On: RIP Leonard Nimoy

Rest in peace Mr Leonard Nimoy. To many he will always be the definitive Spock, but to me he will always be the guy you didn't really want to sit next to on a monorail ride through Springfield. I hope the cosmic ballet continues to delight you in the next life Mr Nimoy. So long and thanks for the entertainment!



Does anyone wanna switch seats?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Focus Review



Will Smith needs a hit. Since taking a break from acting between 2008 and 2012, Smith has returned to rest on his laurels in MIB3, and to appear in a pair of undisputed duds (After Earth and Winter’s Tale). It’s now been seven years since he was legend, 12 years since he was last a bad boy and almost 20 years since he saved the world from planet toasting aliens in Independence Day.

While Focus sees Smith as a bit of a bad boy, it’s a far cry from his heyday as the king of the blockbuster opening weekends. In Focus, Smith plays Nicky, a con-artist extraordinaire, who learned the ropes from his notorious father and now works with a tight crew to rip off (mostly) extremely rich people. When Margot Robbie’s Jess enters his life in a misguided attempt to con the king of the game, she asks to be taken under his wing in order to learn from the best. Hitting up the Superbowl in New Orleans, Jess and Nicky start to develop a romantic relationship, but then suddenly things go awry. The remainder of the film takes place three years later as Jess and Nicky are thrown together again as Nicky is involved in an operation to grab millions of Euros from a Buenos Aires Formula One game. Can the pair overcome their past to make it out with the millions?


Focus is yet another film full of cons, double crosses, dodgy dealings and twists. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are such an astonishingly attractive couple that it is hard to focus on their light fingered movements and the way the films writers/directors are manipulating and using misdirection to pull the wool over our eyes. It’s easy to just enjoy the surface shine of the film with New York, New Orleans and Buenos Aires all looking stunning as this ridiculously good looking pair breeze their way through the story.

It’s amazing to see how the other half live. Focus has rich revellers taking to the streets of New Orleans and having their valuables pilfered. It has gamblers in special seats high above the Superbowl game making million dollar bets and it has Formula One team owners living lives of luxury in the beautiful Buenos Aires. It also has some clever twists and turns, where the con is not quite as expected and the storytellers stay one step ahead of the audience.

However, it also has some ludicrous last minute revelations that don’t really add up when looked at too deeply. However, with Will Smith on smirking form, Margot Robbie looking sensational in a range of stunning outfits and a look into the how the wealthiest on this planet live, it’s hard to focus on the story, instead of just how damn fine everything looks in this movie.

Interestingly, sleight of hand expert Apollo Robbins was a consultant on the film. If you haven’t seen his TED talk about misdirection and controlling attention, go watch that to see how easily a real con artist can snatch your valuables. Focus doesn’t steal your money and offer nothing in return, but some of its sillier twists and turns may ultimately leave you feeling a little short-changed.

Watch the trailer:


Recent reviews from I Love That Film:

Cake

Predestination

Love is Strange

Coherence

Jupiter Ascending

Selma

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Son of a Gun

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Best British Films of 2014

I've been dragging my feet about making this list because I wanted to write a little something about each film. It seems that I am just never going to have the time to do this properly though, so instead I'm just going to plunge in by posting this up as a quick list. It's February 2015 already and this list is long overdue.

Don't get me started on what makes a film 'British' because I could go on and on about this until we finally get rid of the Royal Family. I'm pretty sure it's fair to say that most of these are definitely British. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite British films of 2014:

10. Under the Skin

9. Belle 

8. Jimmy's Hall

7. The Double

6. What We Did On Our Holiday

5. Locke

4. Calvary

3. '71

2. Starred Up

1. Pride


Watch the trailer for Pride:



What were your favourite British films of 2014?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Milcho Manchevski Before the Rain Screening and Q&A at Oxford Brookes

If you want to see an Oscar nominated film and meet and hear the director talk about it FOR FREE, get your tickets for this event which is taking place tomorrow at Oxford Brookes University. The film is Before the Rain and the director Milcho Manchevski and it's all happening Sunday 22nd February from 2-6pm. You can read more about the event here.


2015 Oscar Predictions and Oscar Odds on the William Hill Podcast

I was invited back to give my predictions on what might be the big winners at the Oscars in 2015 on the William Hill Oscars Specials Podcast. I was invited on by Lee Phelps from William Hill last year and returned to give my opinions again this year. You can listen to the podcast below:



I've got too much riding on the Oscars now so I'm really hoping some of my predictions come true. My biggest bets are for Inarritu to win Best Director for Birdman and Boyhood to win Best Picture. I've also bet on a bunch of the favourites but I'm clearly not going to win much on them. If you want to have a gamble on the Oscars at William Hill, head here. There is loads of categories. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Cake Review



At a support group for people suffering from chronic pain, Claire (Jennifer Aniston) becomes obsessed with the suicide of another member of the group. Popping pills in order to keep the pain at bay, and pushing people away with her caustic attitude, Claire starts seeing the dead girl Nina (Anna Kendrick) and even having conversations with her. Her long suffering housekeeper Silvana puts up with Claire’s mistreatment due to a touching sense of loyalty and sympathy, but as Claire ups her dose of prescription pills and begins a relationship with Nina’s grieving husband and son, things being to spiral towards tragedy.


Cake is a film full of grief and loss. The characters have all been touched by tragedy before the film even begins. Many face a fork in the road; the decision of whether to take the path that leads to salvation or to suicide. Claire once had everything and the details of her past tragedy are slowly drip fed throughout the film, allowing the audience to sympathise with this initially very hard to like woman. She is damaged goods, but Cake is also a film of unexpected saviours. Her relationship with her housekeeper seems to have come almost exactly out of Sandra Bullock’s character from Crash, but doesn’t make her arc any less endearing.

While Aniston hasn’t bagged an Oscar nomination for her role as Claire, it’s a commendable departure from many of her more straightforwardly comedic appearances in films. She is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast with Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy being great in a handful of scenes between them, and Sam Worthington is surprisingly good, bringing some real sensitivity to his character. With so many characters dealing with death, Cake is not a fun film. However, the well drawn characters and strong performances make this a film that is sweet without being too sickly.

Watch the trailer:



More reviews:

Predestination

Love is Strange

Coherence

Jupiter Ascending

Selma

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Son of a Gun

Predestination Review



Ethan Hawke is a temporal agent sent back in time to 1975 to prevent a catastrophic bombing where 11,000 people lose their lives. In order to do this, he must find out the identity of the so-called ‘Fizzle Bomber’ which leads him to question a mysterious person in a bar who promises to tell Hawke the best story he’s ever heard. The androgynous storyteller begins the tale with a baby being dropped at an orphanage in the 40s, growing up to become a gifted young woman before being asked to join the work of a secretive company called Space Corp. Is this the story of a killer?

Time travel paradoxes can be fun, and with a good enough story, it can be easy to forget how ridiculous the whole idea is. Predestination is built on paradoxes that would make Sarah Connor’s impregnation by a man from the future look positively straightforward in comparison. It is a twisty-turny thriller that is smart and mostly gripping, even if by the end it doesn’t hold up to any further scrutiny. 


Considering much of what occurs is simply a conversation between two people in a bar, interspersed with frequent flashbacks, Predestination is attention grabbing from start to finish. While Ethan Hawke is dependable, it is Sarah Snook who emerges as the real star, taking on a brave role that requires her to do a lot more than the average actress. To say too much about her character would be to give away some major revelations, suffice to say that Snook rises to the challenge. 

Predestination feels familiar from the likes of Timecop, Looper and Source Code but doesn’t quite manage to satisfy in the same way as any of these, despite some more original elements in its DNA.

Watch the trailer:


More reviews:

Love is Strange

Coherence

Jupiter Ascending

Selma

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Son of a Gun

Big Hero 6

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Love is Strange Review



An elderly gay couple (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) who have been together for 40 years finally tie the knot in a charming little ceremony, surrounded by friends and family in New York. However, George is then fired from his job as a music teacher at a Christian school, despite the fact that everyone has been aware of his sexuality in the past. The loss of George’s income means that the couple are forced to move out of their apartment and must rely on the generosity of their nearest and dearest for a place to live. Ben bunks with his nephew Elliot, Elliot's wife Kate, and their teenage son Joey, while George stays on the sofa of their former neighbours, a younger same-sex couple of two party-loving cops, Roberto and Ted.


Love is Strange is so laidback, it feels as though it could fall right off the screen at times. This should be a furious film about the rights of same-sex couples; a film that rails against the treatment of George by his Catholic school. Instead it is a slice of life drama; one where the characters too easily accept their mistreatment and new predicament and all around them scramble to make their lives bearable. It is an intimate drama rather than a crusade against injustice and if that is what you want, then Love is Strange is a very well acted and touching tribute to love surviving against the odds.

To its credit, Love is Strange is an incredibly refreshing take on homosexual characters. There are none of the clichés that have become so familiar; for example, no one dies of AIDS, no one gets beaten up by homophobes or anything like that. In fact, the real hardships faced by the characters are simply those of being a burden on family and friends. They could happen to anyone, and the only thing that makes this different is that the Catholic school’s response to George getting married is the cause of all their problems. 

Writer/director Ira Sachs deliberately avoids melodrama and over sentimentality, but in doing so removes much of what could have been a more emotional and engaging story. Love is Strange feels like a step in the right direction but it should be angrier when life can still be this unfair.

Watch the trailer: