52 Tuesdays – Trailer & Poster

52 Tuesdays

I’m not a huge fan of posting trailers but I will make an exception for a film that really got me in the gut.

52 Tuesdays comes from debut director Sophie Hyde and follows one year in the life of Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) as her mother (Del Herbert-Jane) transitions from woman to man. The film was shot one day every week for a year and as a result brims with authenticity.

A full review will come nearer the release on 7th August but for now let me just say that it is a beautiful and tender film that tackles issues of gender, identity, and growing up and handles potentially heavy issues with a lightness of touch. You can tell it’s going to be five stars already can’t you?

Out Now – 19th December 2014

Guys and Dolls

Apologies for recent slackness on the blogging front. December is a busy month. Rest assured that I will have my top 10 films of 2014 for you before the year is out. As for the films from last week let’s just say that you should ignore The Hobbit and see The Great Museum instead.

Dumb and Dumber To
Twenty years (TWENTY!!!) after the original comedy about two dumb friends was released we have a sequel. I am skeptical as to how well the jokes will work two decades later and can’t quite understand why this film was made. For that reason I’m out.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
American comedies seem to aspire to trilogies these days and Night at the Museum today successfully completes its transition from a mediocre 2006 comedy to a full-blown trilogy. This time the museum is in London which makes me mildly less apathetic about it all.

Guys and Dolls
Re-release of the classic 1950s musical comedy starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, and Vivian Blaine. I realise that I am prejudging the previous two films but my uninformed and biased recommendations would be to see a classic musical this week.

“Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, in an effort prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.”

Lengthy fantasy comedy drama from India about a man who asks questions no one has ever asked before. I’ll admit it, I am curious to find out what questions he is going to ask.

Out Now – 14th November 2014

Life Itself

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!
The horrendous Nativity series is now officially a trilogy. What next for this Coventry-based Christmas caper? I cannot bring myself to even imagine what the plot might be. Bonus points to the writers for referencing a popular film from over a decade ago in the title.

The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Alan Turing in a film that brings his story to the big screen but doesn’t quite do it justice. I kinda liked it.

The Drop
Another good but not great film in the form of a thriller starring Tom Hardy as a bartender embroiled in gang business. I saw it, enjoyed it, and have no reason to see it again.

Action comedy starring Vinnie Jones about four criminals who end up in Eastern Europe having all manner of 18 certificate mishaps. I haven’t seen Vinnie Jones in a European romp since the golden days of Euro Trip.

Life Itself
Documentary exploring the life, career, and sad passing of the world’s most popular film critic Roger Ebert. Lots of good reviews from critics hoping that one day a film this good is made about them too.

Third Person
An impressive looking cast star in a series of intertwining stories about love set across the globe. Writer/director Paul Haggis has won many Oscars but this film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 24%. When you remember that one of his Oscars was for Crash suddenly the quality of Third Person isn’t such a surprise.

“A historical drama that depicts the relationship between Dietrich von Choltitz, the German military governor of occupied Paris, and Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling.” This week is a very strange week at the cinema.

We Are the Giant
“Since late 2010, more than a dozen nations have experienced popular uprisings that have collectively been called the Arab Spring. Protests, buoyed by predominantly young participants and social-media organizing, have exposed repression and led to regime changes. What does it mean to take part in a collective action that has the potential to unseat dictators and bring previously undreamed-of freedoms to a people?” If nothing else this week has plenty of films that defy me trying to simplify their narratives.

The Guest – Film Review

The Guest

The Peterson family are mourning the loss of their son in Afghanistan when a stranger comes to call. David (Dan Stevens) claims to have been a friend of their fallen family member who has come to check that they are all OK. It isn’t long before he has won over the whole family with his charm, intensity, and toplessness. The only person not so keen is rebellious daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) who senses that something is not right with David and that he may not be what he claims…

I imagine you can guess whether Anna is right or not.

The Guest is a thriller… of sorts. It is certainly thrilling but this is not a film where you gasp in horror when someone is killed or in danger. Instead you laugh loudly, punch the air, and shovel yet more popcorn into your chuckling face. The aim of the game here is to have fun and not take the film, or David, too seriously. While working within the confines of a horror/thriller writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard are doing so with a wry smile and seemingly a desire to entertain rather than scare their audience.

Whenever David does something a little unusual, something to indicate he isn’t the perfect houseguest but possibly a maniac, it is done with an arched eyebrow to ensure we know it’s only a bit of fun. The Guest so desperately doesn’t want to be taken seriously that every scene comes complete with a metaphorical wink or nudge to indicate that the film has its tongue firmly in its cheek.

The Guest - Maika Monroe

The film starts slow and calm but events gradually escalate towards an explosive, dry-ice, mirror maze conclusion with no real resolution. It is when the film is at its most fantastical that the earlier, almost sarcastic, tone makes sense. If the first two acts were to be taken seriously the film would be a taut thriller ending in a mismatched Die Hard finale. As it is the whole feature feels like a bit of a joke so when guns start blazing (and they do) and grenades start rolling (and they do) it all feels perfectly logical. Whether this mix of genre and tone works for you or not depends wholly on how happy you are to enjoy the film as a piece of satire or whether you want it to stand up to closer scrutiny as a film in its own right.

Dan Stevens is perfectly fine as the mysterious antagonist though the role of emotionless Übermensch may not be much of a stretch acting-wise. More work has been done on his accent and body with one transformed into a low American growl and the other a lean, buff physique. Any roundness from Stevens’ Downton Abbey days is long gone and fans will enjoy the entirely plot-centric/gratuitous topless scene. Do not fear misogynists as the film also has Maika Monroe who never seems to wear anything but thigh high socks or stockings. Something for the whole family. To ogle.

The Guest succeeds in being the barrel of fun it wants to be but isn’t as satisfying in the long-term. With David being such an enjoyable sociopath to watch I wasn’t sure if we were rooting for him or for final girl Anna. When the grand showdown comes down to the two of them, and her brother Luke (Brendan Meyer), your emotional response needs someone to cheer for.

Unfortunately when you spend all your time with your tongue in your cheek, winking with one eye, a raised eyebrow, wry smile, and a frantically nudging elbow you are going to come across as a little odd. What The Guest has in spades is excitement and amusement but it then unfortunately lacks in being a true horror or thriller.

A heck of a lot of fun though.

Good, not great, The Guest is in UK cinemas this Friday.

Out Now – 29th August 2014

Obvious Child

Let’s Be Cops
One third of the cast of New Girl star in an appalling looking comedy about two guys who pretend to be cops. That’s it, there’s your plot.

As Above, So Below
A team of explorers go poking around underneath Paris and find all manner of spooky goings on near the gates to hell. When I visited Paris I was satisfied with a trip up the Eiffel Tower but each to their own.

If I Stay
Emotional book adaptation that doesn’t star Shailene Woodley, where were you Shailene?! A girl is forced to decide whether to live or die during an out-of-body experience. Her body is in a coma while her spirit does sufficient acting to fill a feature film.

Night Moves
Dull and uninspiring thriller about three environmentalists who want to blow up a dam and do so. The characters and emotions were a little too subtle for me and what some might fight brooding I found boring. Some reviewers bloody loved it so what do I know?

Million Dollar Arm
Jon Hamm goes to India in search of future baseball stars and instead finds out that people can be valuable in ways that don’t generate millions of dollars. A two-hour Disney sports movie. Eeesh. An American in India! Whatever next!

The Grand Seduction
A small island has to convince an American doctor to stay so that they can build a factory or some such nonsense. Confusingly the island in the trailer appears to be in Ireland but is in fact in Newfoundland which is some kind of Canadian island filled with English, Irish, French, and Scottish immigrants. I’m baffled.

Mystery Road
Australian thriller in which an “indigenous detective returns to the Outback to investigate the murder of a young girl.” I’ve heard good things and Australian crime dramas are so hot right now.

Obvious Child
The best decision you could make at the cinema this week would be buying a ticket to see this gem. To quote myself; “I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed Obvious Child. It is the rarest of cinematic creatures; a romantic comedy that has something to say.” Prepare to love Jenny Slate and wonder why more films can’t be about real women.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
German 1920s horror about one scary piece of furniture. Probably the first horror film every made this is the direct root of every scream you have released whilst in the dark cocoon of the cinema.

The Guvnors
“The Guvnors is a violent thriller set amongst the clans and firms of South East London, bringing two generations together in brutal conflict.” As I currently live in South East London I prefer to not watch any films that aim to highlight the constant peril I am living in. Admittedly my life is less like a violent thriller and more like an episode of Spaced with gentler pace.

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
“The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life at the age of 26.”