or - If Time Travel Were Possible Christopher Nolan Could Give Me Back the Wasted Hours

I have sat through the Batmans in the hope of feeling the excitement that seems to enthuse everyone else and I suffered the horrible travesty that is The Prestige and now Christopher Nolan has stolen even more time out of my life.

I am a sucker for big publicity and media hype. I fall for it every time and Interstellar was another case in point. Another film where I seem to disagree with the majority on IMDB. After seeing the film I end up skimming the reviews to see if I am not the only person who just didn't see what all the fuss was about.
I came out of the film thinking it wasn't bad but it just wasn't good either. After 24 hours of mulling it over it's dropped further in my estimation. Initially I just thought that if he had presented the same stuff in 1hr 49mins instead of 2hrs 49mins it would have been good but having had time to reflect, even that would not save it.

I know that there is no sound in space but those moments of silence were really odd especially during explosions. It dulled all the excitement. The film was hugely lacking in suspense or tension.

There are so many things wrong with the film and they are all topped off with the cheese-ball ending.

Here are some of the irksome plot holes. 

Her dad is the "ghost" in the bookshelf who leaves her a message. The message that he doesn't leave is "It's me, your Dad"

If our future selves can transport Cooper through time and space why not put him in the bedroom and not in the book case. Why leave a message in binary or morse, why not just write it in the dust with the gravity?

Why did Cooper take notice of the co-ordinates but not the message that said "Stay"?

Matt Damon was trying to describe how desperate he was to see fellow humans but no one gave a thought for the astronaut still on the main ship for 23 years.

If you had secretly built a rocket that was mankind's last hope why would you ask a farmer, an ex-pilot to fly it at a few days notice?

What the hell was Michael Caine rambling about in his death scene? What was he lying about and why the hell didn't our future selves communicate with him instead of a teenage girl?

Blackboard mathematics? Really? Do mathematicians still write on blackboards? I suspect they have something slightly more sophisticated. I have seen the Big Bang Theory and even Sheldon Cooper uses a whiteboard and dry wipe pens.

When Cooper disengages his craft and falls into the black hole so Brand can follow her heart it was so reminiscent of Bruce Willis staying behind in Armageddon that I wanted to barf.

The biggest goof of all for me was the ending. His aged daughter tells him to go after Brand. Now, hang on a minute, didn't he set Brand on her way to find her lover Edmund? Did I miss something? Did people find out that Edmund was a gonner? I don't think so. That means Cooper was potentially on his way to be the biggest gooseberry in history (or in the future) ever? Had they fallen in love on the mission but there hadn't been time to cover it in 2hrs 49 mins? 

My final comment: I liked the robots.


As a Halloween treat I went to see The Babadook. I've waited a long time for the film to get here from Australia and I really enjoyed it.
Not a traditional horror movie. No big shocks to make you jump and no slasher gore either. A darkly claustrophobic film with 2 brilliant central performances.

It's the story of a woman and her son who are terrorised by a ghoul from a bedtime book. The book is wonderfully horrible.
It triggered memories of horror films I saw in the 70s and 80s, films that left a lingering unease in the back of my mind as the lights went out at night. The electrical buzzing reminded me of the intense soundscapes from Eraserhead.

Spoiler alert: the whole nightmarish situation is very clearly the mother's anger at her child who she blames for the death of his father. Her mental anguish fuels the whole psychodrama.

I don't think everyone in the theatre felt the same as me. If you go expecting a traditional horror film you could be disappointed. If you are open to a dark, psychological drama with nightmarish overtones then you might feel like I did.

Just a warning - This includes spoilers.

I have been a fan of Planet of the Apes since seeing a clip of one of the early films on Screen Test when I was a kid in the 70s. I was instantly in love.  I read the books of the films when I could get them (you couldn't just pick up a movie back then. There was no video available). I avidly watched the TV show and I bought merchandise. I even saw Planet of the Apes live at an event in Leeds. It was like historic battle re-enactment but with more makeup. I subscribed to the Marvel comic of the same name. I had a great ape mask with moving jaw. I was besotted and have remained so. Maybe this has something to do with why nothing since has quite come close.

Let's get the good stuff out of the way. The animation /CGI of the apes is phenomenal. They look real. The idea that humans had almost been annihilated by a deadly flu is a great plot device and better than the reason given in the original films (a plague killed cats and dogs so we brought apes in to replace them as pets and then to be servants). That's it. After that it's all down hill.

The story is riddled with holes and left me asking why, why, why through the film and long after it had ended. Forgive me but I have to get them off my chest.

This is 10 years since Rise and no humans have been seen for 2 years but there is a huge city just over the bridge. It's so close you can see it when the generator turns on the power and the lights come on. Hang on, they already had power anyway so the lights would already have been visible.

The humans come to find the dam because they only have 2 weeks power left. Hey, great forward planning people.

The man they bring, who is the only person who knows about water power, is a dick, such a badly drawn character but they need him. Then they dump him and get the power station working. Err how?

Why do apes hunt stag? Why do they kill a bear after the way they have been treated? Don't they appreciate letting wild animals live in the wild?

Why do the apes ride horses? Are these the naturally wild horses normally found in forests?

Why does Caesar's son, Blue Eyes, side with Kobo the bonobo?

When kobo and his mates get the guns they have no problem in loading them and shooting them. Kobo is such a good shot he hits Caesar easily.

When Blue Eye's goes to Caesar's house they all speak to him in English. When did he learn this? Caesar plops out the odd word now and again but surely he normally talks ape talk and sign language.

After 10 years the camcorder still has battery life and works. It wasn't looted or smashed.

Gary Oldman's character has no motivation for wanting a war.

The humans have a "Tower" that strangely seems to be all scaffolding. Ideal if you're a bunch of monkeys and want a fight.

Oldman set C4 around the tower - just above his own head. Erm that might just kill you when you detonate it. It did but it didn't kill our boring human hero who was standing there at the time.

Caesar's other half, Cornelia, is very ill and needs antibiotics. She gets them and feels right as rain by the end of the same day.

Caesar after being shot is really weak from blood loss. Never mind. Give him 2 days and he will fight like he's on meth against Kobo Bonobo.

There was more. So much more.

On top of that it's too dark and too long.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this film and the 2hr 45min run time almost had me changing my mind. I am so glad I didn't. It's hard to explain why this film turned out so fabulously. The story has few, if any major crescendos but it never loses pace and it never dropped my attention. It's simply the story of a boy growing up, or rather a family growing up. The boy is the focal point but only just as everyone else grows with him.

It's really amazing to see the actors grow older as the film progresses. You occasionally think "Oh he looks a little older than he did in the last scene" but it doesn't jar and the film is seamless. I was drawn in by the simplicity of the story, the beauty of the camera work and the feeling that you were watching the lives of a real family unfold.

This is a novel film and a beautiful success.

So Frank is a great film. Let's be clear, this is not a bio-pic. It was inspired by Frank Sidebottom in so much as the story is about a band whose front man wears a big papier-mâché head.

It's a really lovely story of an odd group of musicians and their new keyboard player Jon. The musicians are all a bit barking and the beautiful Maggie Gyllenhaal is the craziest. The whole cast are superb and Michael Fassbender is excellent under the head as well as showing that he is a great vocalist too.

The film is engaging, funny and moving. It also made me jump more than any horror movie ever has. It has some wonderful scenes that made me laugh out loud and the direction is just beautiful with some truly clever touches.

It starts with a very unusual aural soundscape that draws you in immediately and finishes with the band's songs playing over the credits that guarantee you won't leave until the final note of "Lone Standing Tuft".

It didn't hurt that The National Media Museum gave me a free T-shirt for being one of the first to book my ticket on the phone :)

Incidentally a documentary about Frank Sidebottom is in production right now and Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story will be out soon.

Today I saw The Book Thief. I really liked the book so I was hoping for good things from the Film. It's nice to be able to report that it has been adapted nicely and if my memory of the book serves me correctly then it was a fairly faithful translation to the screen.
The cast were really good and the sets were excellent. I guess that the little village was a set and not real but it looked wonderful.
Watson and Rush are, expectedly, wonderful. Who wouldn't want Geoffrey Rush putting reading them a book at bedtime? The younger players were great too.
It did sag a little in the middle and could have been trimmed a touch but overall I enjoyed it.

I have one odd niggle with the film - It is set in Germany and all the characters are German so why did they need to speak English with German accents? It wasn't a problem but it just strikes me as odd. Also, they would occasionally use common German references like "Dummkopf" but this wasn't consistent as Geoffrey Rush uses the phrase "God in Heaven" at one point and not "Gott in Himmel".
There is a lot of writing in the film, on advertisments, books and newspapers and it's all in German, all apart from the girl's dictionary on the cellar walls which she writes in English.
This inconsistency with the language does not spoil the film for me but I do find it puzzling.

Overall - good movie





Her is a very unusual film. The concept of a man falling in love with his computer's operating system is not an obvious crowd puller but it's well written, fantastically well acted and beautifully directed.

I was really impressed. Scarlet Johansson brings her character to life with just her voice and Joaquin Phoenix is splendid as the emotionally challenged central character. Amy Adams and Chris Pratt add great support too.

The story opens up so many questions about love, personality, sentience and much more. The story plays out very simply but there are very deep threads woven through the film. I was very impressed.

I am not sure I have seen a film that felt quite as intimate. There are so many close up shots of the actors, more I think, than I have seen in any other film. The production design needs a big nod too. They somehow managed to make it look like it was set in the future but not too far in the future. The use of locations was spot on. They all managed to look slightly skewed form the norm. (The male character's all wore trousers with high waists and huge flies.)

If you like this then you need to check out Robot and Frank which has some similarities in it's subject matter.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It will be in my head for some time and I will definitely give it another watch.

Where do I sign up for my OS1?

So I saw the remake of Robocop. Not a bad film but not a great one either. It suffers in one very particular way: someone already made the film Robocop and it was bloody good so why did someone else feel the need to remake it?

The opening scenes of robots patrolling the streets overseas were really good but the story taking the central character from human to Robocop seemed a little slow compared to the speed of the film's resolution.

The film is punctuated with Samuel L Jackson's right wing TV commentator which is OK but at times it feels a little divorced from the main film. These sections are slightly satirical but that's where it loses out to the original which had a very sharp, dark humour about it.

Visually the film is very good but it doesn't top the original.

Just a little footnote: Can someone please give Michael K Williams a meatier role to play. In this he wasn't really used. I was really excited when he appeared in 12 Years A Slave only to be bereft 5 minutes later when he was killed off. He is a great actor and we need to see more of him.

Occasionally a film comes along, based on a true story, that really opens your eyes. That's what The Monuments Men did for me. I was aware that the Nazis had stolen artwork during WWII but I wasn't aware of the scale of what they had done.

George Clooney was obviously moved by the story as he wrote this screenplay, directed and produced the movie and acted in it.

Looking every bit the 50s movie idol George leads a great cast including John Goodman, Matt Damon and Bill Murray. For a war story it has a very light touch. The story is told in small vignettes of the bigger tale. This is a little disjointed and possibly gives the idea that finding the stolen art was a fairly simple task but there are some wonderful scenes which allow me to forgive the minor flaws here. The shower scene with Bill Murray is very moving and the scale of some of the sets is breath-taking. There is some amazing scenery and the art dept must have been stretched on this one.

I felt moved, entertained and educated when I came away from the cinema.
Overall, a really good film. Worth a look.

 Ju the film carries a warning - "Contains violence, details of bloody injuries and scenes of smoking". Seriously, that's what it said at the beginning.

These 90 minutes had me laughing so much I had tears on my cheeks by the end of the film. Cuban Fury is a great movie. It is full of rom-com clichés and it uses them all superbly. Everything is in there including a training montage. I laughed loads from start to finish. It you want a check list of reasons to see this film then:
Nick Frost - Check
Chris O'Dowd - Check
Rashida Jones - Check
Kayvan Novack - Check and Check again.
Olivia Colman - Check.

There is also great support from Ian McShane, Alexandra Roach and Rory Kinear as well as a very quick and hilarious cameo from a star that I will not name.
Nick Frost gets a chance to shine and show that he is more than Simon Pegg's  sidekick and Kayvan Novack steals every scene he is in. 
The script written by John Brown is very lean and has lots quotable lines such as "Al Pa-fucking-cino" and "I'm late for my ball waxing". IMDB lists some cast members who do not actually appear in the film which makes me suspect that there has been some good editing to keep the movie tight and maintain its momentum.There is one teeny tiny flaw in the plot (who uses cassette tapes in their car these days?) but I laughed so much that I don't care.

Superb. See it

Now, where can I get salsa lessons?