Live By Night Review

Adapted from Dennis Lehane’s 2012 novel of the same name, this is the Ben Affleck show. He writes, directs and stars which is a problem straight away if like me, you don’t really think too much of him. ‘Gone Girl’ was a brilliant film, and although I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen it, ‘Argo’ was a big hit as well. However, he plays pretty much every role in the same old dark and grumbly way and he doesn’t even do that very well.Read More »

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Passengers Review

At one time or another, we’ve all asked our self what we’d do if we were alone, stranded on a desert island. In essence, that’s what ‘Passengers’ is all about. Granted, on a desert island you wouldn’t have the luxuries of a multi billion pound spaceship at your fingertips. However, the point is still valid.Read More »

Ranking the episodes of Black Mirror season 3 – from worst to best

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As a huge fan of Charlie Brooker’s anthology series Black Mirror – and being the only member of Film Night to have watched the original Channel 4 when first released – I was fascinated when I heard Netflix would be commissioning a third season.

For this reason, I decided not to binge watch season 3 of Black Mirror.

I wanted to take my time, wait for the storm to die down, and give each episode my complete focus without any outside influences or distractions.

However, by the time I’d finished this season, I was left with a rather sour taste in my mouth. Below, I rank each episode from worst to best.Read More »

Stranger Things – Spoiler Free Review

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Not bad, eh? Visit http://makeitstranger.com to create your own Stranger Things title.

Netflix’s on fire, your defense is terrified! 

..Anyone..?.. Guys..?

Sorry, I’ll see myself out.

OK, so that pun-cum-nod-to-Will-Grigg was pretty abysmal, but I do have a point.

Netflix are once again on fire with their latest original series Stranger Thingsand when watching the show I genuinely was terrified as this wonderful tale unfolded. So let’s get into it.Read More »

Orange Is The New Black: Season 4 – My mid-term report

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!

Like many others, I was counting down the days until Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black was ready for us Netflix users.

It’s a show I love and find incredibly binge-watchable. So, after just finishing the sixth episode, I thought it would be a good idea to give you my opinion on the season so far, before I turn into a Litchfield Penitentiary watching hermit.

Read More »

The Collection Chronicles – Cape Fear (1962)

Cape Fear DVD

The following review is completely spoiler free!

I was always a big fan of the 1991 ‘Cape Fear’ remake directed by Martin Scorsese which starred Robert De Niro as the ex convict searching for revenge against the family of Nick Nolte, who originally defended him. It was a fantastic film and to be completely honest with you, when I first saw it I was totally unaware that it was in fact a remake.Read More »

Films to watch out for this week – 2nd May 2016 -8th May 2016

Hello Reader!

How are you lovely lot?

Good. I’m glad your all well.

Well most of you anyway. (There is bound to be one of you that answers ‘not good’ to that question, so I have to cover all bases don’t I)

Apologies for being a little late with the column this week. Well it is a bank holiday after all!

I have had a little bit of downtime over the weekend to recharge the old batteries. But I am back to it today!

But enough about me…….

 

Exorcist House of Evil – Released in the UK TODAY, Monday 2nd May 2016

This is an interesting one to start. You only have to read the name of the film to know what type of film this is.

That’s right its a comedy!

Only joking. No it is in fact a horror.

What makes this an intreguing watch is the fact that it is based on a true story.

Before we go any further, lets get this straight. Many films these days claim they are based on a ‘True Story’ or on ‘True Events’. Now, they may well be! However it is very difficult to distinguish what is the true bit, and what may have been added for, what, dramatic effect!

Anyhow we are heading onto a different dual carriageway and if we don’t stop now the next turn off is in 10 miles. And trust me, you don’t want me to go on for 10 miles talking about the ‘True Events’ argument.

Being one of the most famous houses in America, The Exorcist House, was a family home for many years and is the site 0f an infamous exorcism. The film focuses on the house when a young woman returns to the home she used to live in with her family.

A fun fact about this film is that while filming was taking place, the crew captured both audible and visible paranormal activity. It is no surprise then that the producers have left this footage in to give us a look at what haunts this remarkable house.

I don’t know what I think about the paranormal activity argument. Is it really a thing? Is there another universe? Who knows.

What I do know is that this film looks like an interesting watch.

Click on the film if you dare!!!

 

The Wild Life (Robinson Crusoe) – Released in the UK on Thursday 5ht May 2016

Next up, an animation adventure comedy. Originally called Robinson Crusoe, this animation is definitely based on the 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe.

An outspoken parrot by the name of Tuesday can’t stop dreaming of seeing the world. Living on a tiny exotic island with his friends, after a heavy storm, Tuesday discovers a strange creature who goes by the name of Robison Crusoe.

With Crusoe being the only human, he finds it hard to communicate with Tuesday, but realises that they have to work together to survive on the island.

To my surprise, this film was created in France. Now I don’t know why it shocked me but it did! However, when you look at it in a little more detail, the animation looks a little similar to the french theme park, Parc Astérix.

Rated a PG and lasting a lovely length of 90 minutes, this most certainly lands itself right in the centre of the family viewing category.

Please, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t see any well known names for this film. This may be half to do with the fact that it is a French made film.

There isn’t really much more to say about this film to be honest, so if you want to find out more, just watch the trailer below.

 

Florence Foster Jenkins – Released in the UK on Friday 6th May 2016

Staring the likes of Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, this Biographical Comedy Drama follows the life of Florence Foster Jenkins who is a New York Heiress wanting to become an Opera singer even though she can’t sing.

Having seen multiple trailers to this along with interviews with the cast, I believe that this film will go one of two ways. Firstly, it could be an 8 or 9 out of 10 and get to the point. The comedy could be spot on and be a laugh a minute.

Or it could, which I feel it might be, a measly 1 or 2 out of 10. Watching the trailers, the ‘comedy bits’ really are not that funny! Now it might just be me, but personally I feel timing is a little out.

Simon Helberg of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ features in the film and from what I’ve seen, his character is a little wet. Now I am a huge Big Bang fan. Personally I think it is one of the best American comedies of the last ten years. I know a few of my Film Night colleagues would disagree with me on this, but Helberg in the series has great timing and posture, for use of a better word. Something I believe he may lack in this outing.

Let me get to the point! Who cares about a lady who wants to be a opera singer who can’t sing? Not me thats for sure! Have we used all the other ideas for film that we now need to create them about just normal people?? I don’t know.

One positive point is that the film was filmed in Merseyside, Liverpool in the North West of England. Not a million miles from Film Night HQ, which is great to see. Hopefully a few more films could use the different areas of the North of England a little more.

If you would like to see a lady attempt to sing, but film miserably for almost 2 hours, then you should probably check out the trailer below.

 

And that, lovely reader concludes my column for the week.

I’ve wasted enough of your time and you probably have quite a bit to get through.

No?

Well I have so that’s your lot!

 

Till next time………

The Collection Chronicles – A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man DVD

The following review is completely spoiler free!

First off this week, you may have noticed that I have come up with a name for this segment, The Collection Chronicles. Basically, it stems from the fact that I am trying to build up my personal DVD collection. Right, now that’s out of the way let’s get started.

If you aren’t a fan of the Coen brothers, then all I can do is apologise that my first two disc dissections have focused on their work. However, I do promise that next week I will branch out.

Why did I decide to watch another Coen brothers film you ask? Well, as I said at the end of last week’s dissection, ‘Barton Fink’ fuelled my hunger for more. So here I am, having helped myself to another large portion of Coen delight.

Or perhaps delight is the wrong word to use this week. ‘A Serious Man’ stars Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik, a middle aged Jewish physics teacher whose life is falling apart in front of his very eyes. His wife Judith (Sari Lennick) wants a divorce so she can leave him for his work colleague and close friend Sy (Fred Melamed), his brother Arthur (Richard Kind) shows no signs of finding his own home, his son Danny (Aaron Wolff) spends his time getting high and not listening in school, and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) just wants nothing to do with him. Oh, and his neighbours are a hunting loving father and son on one side, and on the other is a mysterious lonely woman who torments Larry by sunbathing naked.

Unsure about what to do, he turns to his faith for answers. One by one, he meets with three rabbis in the hope their wisdom will guide him. Varying degrees of success (and hilarity) follow.

A Serious Man Screenshot
Larry Gopnik tries to figure out the answer to all of his problems

 

When the film starts, you may be excused for believing that you have inserted the wrong disc, as what follows is a five minute Yiddish folklore tale which the Coen brothers made up. It has almost no bearing whatsoever on the rest of the film but I actually really enjoyed it, found it fascinating and I also thought it was a very unique way to kick-start a film and grab the viewers attention.

The comedy style used in the film is dark and deadpan, so nothing new there then for the Coen brothers. I don’t have a major issue with the lack of originality, I just wished it had been funnier that it ultimately was. There were a few laugh out loud moments certainly, and the comedic timing was bang on, particularly from Stuhlbarg. I just wanted more of it. A lot more.

Also, if you’re not a Jew like myself, a lot of the language used in the script will mean nothing to you. That is until you watch the very helpful bonus feature which explains the Hebrew and Yiddish terms used (more on that later). This also makes it hard for me to relate to any character. If you’ve been through a bar mitzvah then I’m sure you will appreciate the closing moments of the film far more than I did.

What this film does brilliantly, is capture the look and the feel of 1967 Midwest America. The houses that line the neighbourhood and the costume designs are extremely subtle but the effect they have on the aesthetics is anything but. If you’re a bit of a petrol head and love classic cars, there are some corkers in this. I am by no means a car lover, but boy I really did appreciate some of the beauties on display.

Michael Stuhlbarg’s performance is a real highlight, the way he handles himself while his world falls apart is incredibly admirable and you really do feel for him. There are some lovely, touching scenes that he shares with his brother Arthur which stand out in the memory.

Larry Gopnik
“Is that Larry Gopnik? I have another problem for you…”

 

What isn’t a highlight, are the performances of Aaron Wolff and Jessica McManus as Larry’s children. They both came across as rather wooden and stilted unfortunately. Larry’s friend and work colleague Sy Ableman is an incredibly irritating character, you just want to punch him in the face every time he speaks and that’s all credit to Fred Melamed’s performance because I’m sure that’s what Joel and Ethan Coen were going for. Sy’s story in the film takes a sudden and unexpected turn which I loved as well because that then triggers more unfortunate issues for poor old Larry.

Danny Gopnik
Aaron Wolff contemplates the quality of his performance

 

I was also hoping for more from the rabbi scenes. Aside from the first rabbi Larry meets, Rabbi Scott played by Simon Helberg who you may know from ‘The Big Bang Theory’, these scenes were actually quite dull. The meeting with Rabbi Scott however is actually very funny.

The Verdict

A fairly enjoyable film in which Michael Stuhlbarg delivers a strong lead performance, but some weak acting from the younger members of the cast and a real lack of laughs mean that I can’t give it any more than 3 stars.

3 Stars

Bonus Features

There are three bonus features available, and each of them are well worth a watch. The first, ‘Becoming Serious’, is a 17 minute behind the scenes featurette, with interviews from all the major cast members and also an interesting insight from the Coen brothers themselves.

Next, is an equally fascinating, 13 minute insight titled ‘Creating 1967’ which is exactly what it says on the tin, with interviews from production designers among others. A look into how they transformed the locations into superbly realistic period pieces. Plus those cars, oh baby…

Finally, a very short, snappy, well put together language guide called ‘Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys’. Don’t know what a goy is? This useful little bonus feature reveals all. Or, you know, just Google it.

3 Stars