Saturday, April 23, 2011


Ahhh, the movie remake. Why do people do them? Well, occasionally, just occasionally, they're better than the original. Ocean's 11, The Fly, The Thomas Crown Affair, True Grit and well, that's all I can think of. I will not be adding Arthur to this quartet. Not that it's bad, just that it's not good. It's the story of Arthur Bach, a rich irresponsible playboy who is blackmailed by his Mother to marry Susan a very capable business woman who will keep the family millions on track. Arthur doesn't want to marry Susan and falls in love with Naomi. She gives him the incentive to become a better man. Arthur attempts to change his ways through AA and finding employment for the first time in his life. All the while in the moral dilemma of should he marry Susan and live in luxury or be disinherited and be happy with unlicensed tour guide Naomi? The original Arthur starred Dudley Moore and was decidedly politically incorrect and delightful. It is a very difficult task to make a rich, hedonistic drunken playboy the beloved hero of a story, but Dudley pulled it off brilliantly. Russell Brand is Arthur of the 21st Century. Unlike some members of my family, I do rather like him, in his place. Whilst his looks are quite spooky, reminiscent of the great, long, red-legged scissor man; he is not without his charm. The problem is that to pull off the role of Arthur, you need a real boyish innocence, an innate sweetness, a je ne sais quoi. Mr Perry is just far too streetwise to be that man. He also can't act particularly well and can't act drunk at all. In acting inebriated, Dudley Moore was peerless. Susan is played by the very talented Jennifer Garner. Unfortunately it is excruciating to watch her lower her standards to such a level in the scene where she is forced to play the sexy drunk kitten. Arthur's love interest is played by Greta Gerwig, a favourite on the Indy circuit. In the original she was played by Liza Minelli. Love her or hate her, she was quirky and individual, different from the other dames. Greta Gerwig's Naomi is insipid and simpering, nothing special at all. The John Gielgud role of Hobson is in the very capable hands of Helen Mirren. She does an admirable job, but the relationship between her and Arthur is a bit blurred. Whilst she's supposed to be the surrogate Mother, it's more like they're sparring spouses. They have by far the best chemistry, but even that is disjointed and you don't quite believe that he's heartbroken when she leaves him on his own. It's a weird film really. Whilst it's obviously trying to be a different updated version of the original, there are great chunks of lines taken from the first film. Also, it loses a huge amount of heart and humour by trying to be so politically correct. Susan's dad is played by Nick Nolte. Ironically he doesn't like Arthur because of his drinking but himself looks like he's staggered in from the nearest liquor store. It's a miracle that he remembered his lines at all, not that you'd know because he's incoherent most of the time. If you think there's too much comparison to the far superior original, even down to the wonderful soundtrack, that's because if you make a remake, expect people to compare it because you cannot separate the two. It's not a terrible film, there just really was no point in making it in the first place. ARTHUR: This is what happens If you get caught between a goon that's just not witty, I know it's crazy, but it's true. 4/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Ever since 'Big Train' I have had a soft spot for Simon Pegg. His movies, along with his best friend Nick Frost have been a little hit and miss, te best by far being 'Shaun of the Dead'. It was with some trepidation that I went to this film, as we all know, the Sci Fi genre is a cruel mistress. Get it right and it's Bladerunner, get it wrong and it's Battlefield Earth. Thankfully, the boys got it right. It's an unashamed homage to the great Alien movies, not a silly rip off, more a big thank you. It's the tale of Graeme and Clive, two absolute English men on their dream holiday. Visiting comic-con, the convention for Sci Fi nuts and then taking a driving tour of all the places across the US of famous sightings or near sightings of alien forms. It's on this road trip that they meet Paul,(voiced by Seth Rogen) a stereotypical looking alien with some very bad habits. The three compadres end up on the run from the Men in Black (most notably Jason Bateman, noone deadpans like Jason Bateman) and take along an Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig) as an initially unwilling accomplice. Ruth is an evangelical Christian who is actively against Darwinism, but with help from Paul and Graeme, sees the light. Graeme and Clive have to help Paul get to his destination before the Men in Black especially The Big Guy and Ruth's gun toting Dad get to them all first. Sounds familiar? Well of course it is, but Paul explains the comparisons to ET in a neat little cameo scene. I really like this film. It's great fun. Seth Rogen is absolutely perfect as the voice of Paul. I have said before that I'm not very keen on him, but when you don't see his face, the smugness melts away. Irritatingly as with most Rogen films, marijuana is king, but apart from that his Paul is very endearing, as are his habits. It's also refreshing that Paul doesn't actually get along with both of his saviours initially, which adds a greater depth to the story. The relationship between Graeme and Clive is great too. They are obviously very close in real life, and this chemistry comes through in the movie. I won't spoil it for you, but there are some truly funny cameos. It's quite adult humour, but pertinant and funny stuff. The ending is surprisingly emotional, I really teared up and it pulled my heartstrings far more than ET. Yes, I'm sorry, but I can't stand that movie. It's so sugarcoated and schmaltzy, every damned scene desperately tries to eke out an emotional reaction. Sorry Sir Spielberg. I did love the character, just not the film. PAUL: Gross encounters of the fun kind. 7/10.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just Go With It

You know that there is very little I haven't seen at my local cinema when I go to see an Adam Sandler movie. I find him neither a good comedian nor likeable. With a talented comedian it really doesn't matter how offensive the humour (as long as it's humour) but it's all in the delivery. Some people can say what they want, and it's devilish (the genius of Sir Ricky Gervais, lesser known outside of the UK Lord Harry Hill and the very talented Steve Carrell). Whereas with others the lines they say are vitriolic and almost sinister. Jim Carrey, Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler spring to mind. It's the story of plastic surgeon (Sandler, stretching believability to breaking point) who has pretended for years that he's married to get girls, as he never wants to be hurt again. Then he meets a (very) young girl of his dreams a teacher (stretching believability to breaking point) named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker). Things are going well until she finds out he's 'married'. Enter ridiculous plot where he enlists the help of his dowdy (stretching believability to breaking point)medical assistant single mum of two Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his wife to persuade Palmer that they are in the process of divorcing. Katherine accidently slips that she has kids, so they all go to Hawaii to 'bond', along with Katherine's pretend new boyfriend 'Dolph Lundgren', Danny's moronic cousin, Eddie played by Nick Swardson who was in the hilarious Reno 911!. Whilst in Hawaii, Katherine bumps into her high school nemesis Devlin (Nicole Kidman, yes you read correctly, Nicole Kidman). The family then spend a few nights getting into some tricky social situations, culiminating in Danny and Palmer deciding to get married. When I say tricky social situations, I do of course mean ridiculous, unbelievable and irrelevant. The problem is that Danny and Katherine now have realised that they care for each other. Oh the dilemma, dear reader, what happens next? Where do I begin with a review of this debacle? First and foremost, I would like to put my hand up for the job of Aniston's new agent. Fire the old one immediately Jen, my Gran could do better, and she's dead. Jennifer is a good actress. She's likable, warm and funny. Why does she insist on continuing to humiliate herself in these ridiculous films? She just has to stop it. Now. Adam Sandler seems to resort to the most puerile childish humour. Jews have big noses. Ha ha. I'm not against stereotyping and I do think that people should be able to poke fun at other people, but for goodness sake, can't he think of anything else? If he wasn't Jewish himself, everyone would be up in arms over this. It's offensive to comedy and to Jewish people and to funny Jews it's a hangable offence. Can you imagine the divine Larry David resorting to that? There are a few laughs with regard to L.A. and plastic surgery. Does the director not see the irony in employing Aniston, who is still lovely now, but has obviously resorted to botox and more, and then to have Nicole Kidman, the most plastic fantastic of actresses in Hollywood sharing screen time? Nicole Kidman doing the hula and showing us her fun side? Oh peeeerlease! Let's just face it, the woman can't act. Can't do drama, thrillers or now, comedy. Weather Girl was a freaky accident. Truly disasterous. Danny's cousin, the neanderthal Eddie why is he even in it? His attempts to get near to women are bordering on sexual abuse, strike that, it is sexual abuse. Light relief comes in the form of one of Katherine's children, Maggie (Bailee Madison) I think she's the love child of Dick Van Dyke and Rosie O'Donnell. She's a hoot. The other one, well, you can see why his father doesn't want to spend time with him. The girlfriend Palmer is lovely to look at, but she's supposed to be a teacher. Aren't teachers supposed to have a brain? How does she get sucked in to any of this? A girl who is smart enough to be a teacher wouldn't really be mindlessly adoring of an overweight unattractive married man saddled with two kids, especially one that comes out with lines like "I want to climb Palmer's mountains", yes, he really said that. It is a relief to see that forty two year old Jennifer looks better in a bikini than a woman half her age. Granted she does have the benefit of money, no kids, money, time and the motivation that she can pull Brad Pitt, but still.... As for Katherine, she's known this guy for years. She knows how he treats women. She understands that he's lied to girls for years. What has he got that she could possibly fall for? Money and access to surgery I guess, and possibly that he eats really badly and is in bad shape so she won't have to tolerate him for long. The weird thing is that the chemistry between Sandler and Aniston is really good. Go figure. I am not assassinating Adam Sandler's real life persona here. Just his movie persona, in case you're reading this Adam. Over all as you may deduce, I thought it was a pile of Devlin. If you want an explanation of that last sentence you will have to go and see the film. I recommend that you don't.JUST GO WITH IT: to the nearest incinerator and throw the damn movie in. 3/10 For Jennifer and the spectacular views of Hawaii.

Sidney Lumet 1924 - 2011

Another Movie Icon has gone. Sidney Lumet was a visionary director. He has directed some of the most powerful and controversial films I have had the pleasure to see. His range of movies are diverse, from 'The Wiz', to 'Night Falls on Manhattan'. I will remember him most for 'Serpico', the groundbreaking 'Dog Day Afternoon', both starring Al Pacino, 'The Verdict' with Paul Newman, '12 Angry Men', 'Murder on the Orient Express', 'Network' and the divinely dark, and brilliantly named 'Before the Devil knows you're Dead'. Once married to Gloria Vanderbuilt, and the one time son-in-law of Lena Horne, this man was true Hollywood. Garnering many Oscar nominations and awards his direction brought out the best in his actors. Sidney Lumet has inspired a generation of directors, and given countless hours of pleasure to millions of viewers. Thank you Mr Lumet, it's been a privelege and an honour.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Welcome back Matthew McConaughey! How nice to see this fine actor in something other than a romcom. With his good looks and swagger, he's just so lazy at picking his roles. By my calculations it's been around fifteen years since he's been in something that showcases his talents (other than his sex appeal and pecs). Unless you count 'Two for the Money' with Al Pacino, which was a good film, but it bombed. In my 'Limitless' blog, I mentioned that some actors don't really have that certain something to carry a film, well this one does, in bucket loads. Like him or loathe him, the man got charisma. Anyway, on to the movie. Mick Haller (McConaughey) is a borderline alcoholic lawyer, who after losing his licence hires a driver and works from his car, a lincoln, so he's the lincoln lawyer, get it?. He is hired to defend a rich young man Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe) who has been accused of brutally assaulting a young woman. Roulet categorically denies his guilt and Haller has to piece together the events of the night in question. He is ably assisted by his old friend Frank (William H Macy) and regularly 'bumps into' his ex-wife Maggie (Marisa Tomei) who herself works for the Justice Dept and is the mother of his daughter. During the investigation Mick has to uncover whether the victim is trying extort money from his client, or could the case be linked to an old client of his? It's a great cast. All of the actors do a stellar job. Ryan Phillipe is excellent as the petulant spoilt man child who is evidently used to getting his own way. William H Macy is as solid and likeable as ever and it's really good to see Marisa Tomei again, especially in an intelligent role rather than the usual kooky dames she plays. In the mix as well are Josh Lucas (a McConaughey lookey likey), John Leguizamo, Frances Fisher, Bryan Cranston, Michael Pina and Bob Gunton. The story is twisty turny enough to keep you interested, and it's an enjoyable, imaginative if forgettable film. THE LINCOLN LAWYER: I couldn't possibly testify until I ascertained how comfy the back seat is, your Honour.7/10.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Never Let Me Go

This film is set in a world which appears to be the same as England in the '70s, '80s and '90s. We know it's not because at the beginning there is a prologue which explains that there has been huge leaps in modern science meaning that people can live for a lot longer than before. We meet our three main characters when they are young and in an eery boarding school. More reminiscent of the 1930s than more modern times. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) form a friendship with the volatile Tommy (Andrew Garfield), for Ruth, this turns into more than a friendship, but it's Kathy that really loves Tommy and over the years she finds it increasingly hard to cope with those feelings of love. All the children in the school are counted in and counted out by electronic wristbands, and there is something sinister the teachers are hiding. The truth comes to light and it's then that the young people's lives change, when they are too old for school they go on to 'the cottages' to live until their vital organs are needed and they go on to donate. Kathy decides to become a carer, which will prolong her life by a few short years. The friends lose touch, but connect later on when time has ravaged their young bodies. Tommy and Kathy reconnect and try to find a way to spend the precious little time they have together. I'm not giving anything away as this is all revealed very early on in the film. There films scenes and settings are very ordinary, which makes it all the more creepy. Keira Knightley is the standout as Ruth. Ruth is passionate and impetuous. You initially feel that she is incredibly selfish, but of course, she's just trying to survive, and you forgive her because she is so lost and so brave. Carey Mulligan, whilst a good actress, doesn't really suit this role. She reminds me of someone's Nan in this, a little bit frumpy and I never really believe that she loves Tommy that much, it's all a bit half hearted and unemotional. Andrew Garfield is again, a good actor, but whilst Tommy is supposed to be an innocent, he just comes across as a bit of a half wit really. The premise is excellent, it's a really great idea and the story in itself is unusual and touching. I don't think it matters at all that noone tried to escape from the situation, not everyone does try and where would they go anyway? It's more the casting choice I think, it just was a bit soul less and you didn't really care, because you felt the main characters didn't care that much. Which is a real pity, because I love a good cry. NEVER LET ME GO: More a case of, don't let me go, well, ok if you want to then you can, I'm not really that worried. 6.5/10

Friday, April 1, 2011

Swoon, I'll catch you

One of the things I love most about the movies is that it enables you to escape into another world. This blog is inspired by my darling sister, who, for my birthday did a post about our shared love of certain actors. Here, I am posting some of my alltime most romantic leading man roles. The criteria? Call me shallow, but looks of course, personality and the lengths they will go to for the woman they love. They are good, but not too good. Sex appeal is an obvious must. Invariably they are handsome, dependable, smart and fun. They may not be to everyone's tastes, but here are the men that have made my movie life all the more meaningful. In no particular order, apart from the last two, for they will forever be my number one. I hope that you enjoy it, there are lots to get through, so let's get on. Here's looking at you, Ray...

ROMEO Leonardo DiCaprio Romeo and Juliet

Youthful, beautiful and willing to die for his girl. Heartbreaking words, wonderful adaptation, Oh Romeo, did my heart love till now? Foreswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night

COUNT LASZLO DE ALMASY Ralph Fiennes The English Patient

Dying from his injuries the mysterious Count is haunted by his love for Katherine. As he recounts his tale, we are drawn into their world, for the bath scene and the back of his neck, he will be forever remembered.

GEORGES FAURE Gerard Depardieu Green Card
Willing to do anything to live in America, composer George marries citizen Bronte. At first he appears oafish, but his gallic charm wins us all over. He cooks, he plays piano, he's earthy and has a French accent, I DO!

SAM BALDWIN Tom Hanks Sleepless in Seattle

Overrated as a romantic film, the character of Sam is faultless. He's fun,dependable, you just know he smells good, a great Dad, a Widower who misses his wife but is willing to move on, this all American boy's appeal is universal. Shall We?

CHRISTIAN Ewan McGregor Moulin Rouge

A romantic poet falls for the concubine Satine. In Baz Lurhmann's divine assault on the senses, anything goes. He sings, he dances, he loves, you can tell every body this is his song. His smile could light up Paris, he surely can can can.

JOHN BOOK Harrison Ford Witness

The cop who goes deep undercover in the Amish community to investigate a murder. He's moody, he's dependable and there's a dry humour lurking just below the surface. Good with his hands he can build a mean barn, he gets in for the Sam Cooke scene and the mind blowingly tense early morning union. What a wonderful world it would be....

ROBERT KINCAID Clint Eastwood The Bridges of Madison County

Robert Kincaid breezes in to photograph some bridges, and turns his life, and Franscesca's upside down. Who knew Clint could be so damn romantic? Awakening parts of Franscesca that she never knew existed, they share an unbearably romantic few days together. The final scenes never fail to break my heart, he is deep, he's a talented photographer, he's a free spirit, and he loves her until the day he dies.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Joseph Fiennes Shakespeare in Love
One of the greatest romances ever. The relationship between Will and Viola is fun, earthy, sexy and real. He loves her enough to let her go, but not before immortalising her in one of the saddest endings ever. For he shall be a hero for all time...

CAPT ETIENNE NAVARRE Rutger Hauer Ladyhawke
Well before Twilight, Isabeau and Navarre were star crossed lovers, having been put under an evil spell by a jealous rival. He's a wolf by night, she's a hawk by day, bound to each other, they roam the land trying to find a way to break the spell. He's handsome and fearless, driven by the love of a woman he can only remember in his dreams. Magical.

MR DARCY Matthew MacFadyen Pride and Prejudice

Sorry Col, but Matthew's my Mr. Darcy. Proud, rich and moody, we see glimmers of the humour and sensitivity behind the facade. Even though she is not in the same social class, he is devoted to Elizabeth, but is bound by etiquette and stubborness. When he finally does succumb, the image of him storming across the misty English field to claim his love will set your heart aflutter. I love, I love, I love you.

TOM LEFROY James McAvoy Becoming Jane
Oozing testosterone and cockiness, Tom sweeps into Jane's life and claims her heart. Beneath this sexy exterior, there lies the heart of a true romantic, devoted to Jane but confined to the expectations of the age. The raw energy and fun of the cricket match captures us, but it's the ball scene that makes us gasp, those who've seen it will know. Heartbreaking, beautiful, Tom Lefroy, inspiring Jane's Mr Darcy.

CK DEXTER HAVEN Cary Grant The Philadephia Story

Handsome, rich, sexy, suave and full of fun. Tracey's first husband is determined to stop her second marriage. Not by force, but just by being there to show her what she's missing. He just wants her to be a woman, naturally. Who could want more from her leading man than that?

ELIOT NESS Kevin Costner The Untouchables

The pure face of an angel. The ethics and morals of a saint. Defiant against the mob, he stands for justice. The only thing that scares him is that his beloved wife and children may be in danger. Looks great in Armani and has put the butterfly kiss in our bedtime routine with my children. Makes you feel safe and leaves you wishing he would offer to brush your hair.

MACON LEARY William Hurt The Accidental Tourist

Achingly sad from the loss of his son, Macon is desperately trying to stay in the Leary groove he has carved himself. When his overbearing wife leaves him, he meets the eccentric Muriel and his world is changed, reluctantly at first, forever. Oh how I wish I was on the receiving end of the look he gives Muriel from the taxi at the end.

RHETT BUTLER Clark Gable Gone with the Wind

Charming and roguish Rhett, irrestistable to all woman, except the one he loves. Full of fun and wit, what on earth was she thinking of? Ashley doesn't even come close. Coming to her senses way too late, frankly my dear, she should have given a damn.

MICHAEL DORSEY Dustin Hoffman Tootsie

Played with an irresistable combination of humour and intensity, Michael will do anything for his art, even switch genders. When he becomes a hit as a woman, he struggles with how to reveal his true identity without crushing the woman he loves. Sexy with a great sense of style, the ending is ridiculously romantic. When he tells Julie he was a better man with her as a woman and he has to learn to do it without the dress, what woman in their right mind wouldn't forgive him?

ALADDIN Scott Wiengar (voice) Aladdin

A diamond in the rough with a monkey as his best friend. This boy falls for a Princess and enlists the help of a genie to make it happen. He takes her on a carpet ride, shows her a whole new world and true love prevails. Do you trust him? Certainly, just don't you dare close your eyes.

WILL HUNTING Matt Damon Good Will Hunting

Fiercely intelligent and loyal, Will struggles with his feelings for Skylar and to overcome the horrors of the past. His journey is flawed, but he gets there with humour and wit. When he smiles, oh how I love them apples. Wouldn't mind an afternoon delight, or any time of day for that matter.

JACK BAKER Jeff Bridges The Fabulous Baker Boys

Moody, talented and troubled. Jack Baker is a piano playing womaniser. He denies his love for Susie, the sexual chemistry is tense from the start. Famous for it's piano writhing scene, Jack brings out the smoulder in Susie. Beneath this gruffness is a sexually charged sensitive soul who loves his dog, irresistable.

And so to the last two......

JACK DAWSON Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic
Free spirit Jack wins a pass on Titanic. There he saves Rose from herself and so begins a love story so sweet, it broke box office records. Many people have slated this film since, a case of sour grapes methinks. For me, Jack is the ultimate romantic lead. Handsome, comfortable in his own skin, charms people below and above the decks of all ages. He is talented, fun and defies class. Above all, he's brave and good, and sacrifises himself for his true love. Even with death on his shoulder, he thinks of Rose and makes her promise to have a full and happy life. Jack, my heart will go on. Just knowing that you would be there at the top of the stairs waiting patiently would have got me through just about anything. Here's to making it count.

ROBBIE TURNER James McAvoy Atonement

He's clever, funny and pure. He has the bluest, saddest eyes you can imagine. Dependable, honourable, but never boring. At the beginning, Robbie has the world at his feet. He is in love with Cecilia, and that love knows no bounds. He can make a library seem the most exciting place in the world. The tragedy of Robbie is that he is unwaveringly decent and moral. Brave and courageous, he is loved by every person whom he comes into contact with, and it is the twisted adoration of a certain she-devil that shall not be named that is his downfall. Robbie is the ultimate romantic lead, full of the joy and energy of youth, but with the wisdom and patience of knowing that life doesn't always turn out how it should. And bearing this knowledge with a heartbreaking dignity. So many scenes that are standout, but if I have to pick just one, it's when the star crossed duo are getting ready for dinner. Puccini and perfection. Thanks so much.