Out Now – 15th August 2014

The Rover

Let’s all pretend that I wrote this on time and not two days late…

The Expendables 3
I haven’t seen this instalment in the franchise that continues to roll on despite how much I ask it not to. See also: my review for The Expendables 2, I’m pretty sure it all applies to this one too.

Hector And The Search For Happiness
Simon Pegg continues to show that despite his talents Pegg’s agent really struggles to find a decent film for him to star in that doesn’t involve Edgar Wright. I urge you to read Robbie Collin’s review as it says all you need to know about why you should not see this film.

The Rover
With stubble covered acting chops Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in this Australian drama. It is set after a world-changing financial collapse and the rest of the plot is a mystery to me but we are in the hands of Animal Kingdom‘s David Michôd so no matter what is going on it’s sure to be worth a look. Plus Pearce and Pattinson… amiright ladies?

The Congress
Robin Wright plays a version of herself who signs over her likeness to a film studio so they can make limitless films starring her without Wright’s approval or involvement. Twenty years later Wright attends a celebration in an animated world and the whole film loses the plot. A few too many ideas here in a film that some people will blindly love and decry naysayers as “just not getting it”. I get it; the film is not good.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Crime! Drama! Thriller! Three teens want to get out of their small town so turn to the only answer: crime. When they steal from the wrong man they are sucked into organised crime and at some point perform covers of The Animals classics. Most of this is true.

Singham Returns
Singham is back!

The Unbeatables
Animated comedy about Football. RUN AWAY!!!!

Dinosaur 13
From what I hear/read/vaguely-remember-having-seen-somewhere-but-I-don’t-know-where this is a surprisingly gripping and moving documentary about the discovery of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found. Prepare to cry over a collection of bones like you’ve just finished a family bucket of KFC by yourself.

Blood Ties
“Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.” With a cast including Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, and Zoe Saldana it’s surprising that this is only getting a limited release. I blame Stallone.

The Notorious Mr. Bout
Documentary about the “notorious” Mr Bout (who?) a former arms smuggler (smuggled weapons and not limbs). To see this film as Bout would want smuggle your own popcorn and sweets into the cinema; Haribo strapped to your inner thigh and popcorn in condoms ready and waiting in your gut. ENJOY!

Out Now – 8th August 2014

Lilting

The Inbetweeners 2
The Inbetweeners have always managed to be everything I hate about comedy and yet remain incredibly amusing. In their second big screen adventure the boys head down under and scatological humour ensues.

Planes: Fire & Rescue
A Disney sequel to the spin-off from the worst Pixar movie thus far. On this basis I will not be recommending you spend your hard-earned money here.

Lilting
What do you do when your boyfriend dies and his mother can’t speak English and didn’t even know he was gay? Watch this film to find out! Just a shame they had to tarnish this sweet story with Coca-Cola sponsorship.

Wakolda / The German Doctor
“The true story of an Argentine family who lived with Josef Mengele without knowing his true identity, and of a girl who fell in love with one of the biggest criminals of all time.”

Moebius
Korean drama with no spoken dialogue but lots of sex, violence, sexual violence, and general 18 certificate shenanigans. A wife takes violent retribution after her husband’s infidelity.

Welcome to New York
Apparently including a 30 minute group sex scene with Gérard Depardieu as the focal point this drama about a powerful man driven by lust is not really for me, you, and certainly not your parents.

God’s Pocket
It is bittersweet that Philip Seymour Hoffman has had no one big final film with the prolific actor having a number of film scheduled to be released posthumously. For Hoffman there will be no career-defining final turn as The Joker. This week we get the directorial debut of John Slattery which is receiving mediocre reviews. Surely any Hoffman is worth a look before we do finally run out of his peerless performances?

All This Mayhem
A documentary that promises an unfiltered look at the world of skateboarding. “Brothers Tas and Ben Pappas’ intense bond and charisma take them from the pinnacle of their sport into a spiralling world of self-destruction.”

To Catch a Thief
Cary Grant! Grace Kelly! Alfred Hitchcock! Get yourself to the cinema!

Out Now – 18th July 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Apologies, this week it has been quite literally too hot to type. I am sweltering away writing this and it’s all for you dear reader.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Planet of the Apes has previously risen and is now dawning. The first instalment in this prequel franchise was OK and the latest is apparently even better. Consider this one A-OK. I think your enjoyment of the film essentially boils down to how seriously you take a monkey holding a shotgun. In real life I advise you always take armed apes incredibly seriously.

Pudsey the Dog: The Movie
Don’t look away and pretend this isn’t real. This is happening and we are all partly to blame. Every time we watched Britain’s Got Talent “because it was on” we contributed to the justification for this talking dog film to exist. I’m sorry for the part I played and I hope that you are too.

Some Like It Hot
I have not seen this now classic 1950s comedy. I do know that it involved Marilyn Monroe and two men in drag and that in a nostalgic haze all reviewers are giving this re-release five stars.

Finding Vivian Maier
During her lifetime Vivian Maier was “just” a nanny but after her death was discovered to be a secret street photographer of considerable talent. This documentary documents this.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Shep Gordon is a Hollywood manager, agent, and producer and now the subject of a documentary directed by Mike Myers. When Hollywood makes a film about Hollywood it can be fascinating or of no real interest to anyone else. I’m not too sure I care about this one.

I Am Divine
Another documentary. This features Divine, international drag icon and cinematic muse, and is suitable for fans of the subject.

Grand Central
Sexy French film in which sexy French people have sexy French sex.

Norte, the End of History
Filipino drama about a family man wrongly convicted of a double murder. While he suffers in prison his wife struggles to keep their family afloat and the real roams free. Pick of the week for sure.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to shower. All this typing has worn me out.

Out Now – 6th June 2014

Grace of Monaco

Grace of Monaco
Despite getting laughed at rather than lauded at Cannes last month we are still being punished with a wide realise of the Nicole Kidman starring biopic of Grace Kelly. A film hasn’t been this poorly perceived since… actually it was only nine months ago when Diana stumbled into the spotlight. Double bill anyone?

22 Jump Street
The preceding film in this reboot franchise 21 Jump Street was a real surprise. What I thought would be a dumb comedy turned out to be a clever film that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at itself and won me over with its charm and silliness. If this sequel is even half as good then I will be a little disappointed but if it is, let’s say, 75% as good then that’s fine by me.

Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty
Indian action romance thriller in which a “military officer attempts to hunt down a terrorist, destroy a terrorist gang and deactivate the sleeper cells under its command”. This synopsis doesn’t explain where the romance come in so I think we can safely assume that the officer falls in love with the terrorist.

Cheap Thrills
When buying your ticket for this American comedy about a scheming couple who two men through a series of dares over the course of an evening do your best not to wink after you say “one adult for cheap thrills please.”

I Declare War
Canadian action comedy drama looking at when “summer war games between neighborhood kids turn deadly serious when jealousy and betrayal enter the mix.” Lord of the Flies Canadian style!

The Dirties
Canada is back for more, this time with a drama about two boys filming a comedy (?) about getting revenge on their school bullies. One of them takes it all to seriously and I think something harrowing happens.

Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
The title is a lie, this is actually a film about Pulp first and foremost. Any life, death or supermarkets are purely incidental.

Pluto
South Korean drama about an innocent student who is drawn into a group of elite high school students and turned into a monster.

Fruitvale Station
Critically acclaimed and award-winning US indie that tells the true story of a young man who spends the last day of 2008 trying to turn his life around with consequences that shake his town to its very core. Or so I have read.

Benny & Jolene
UK independent comedy with an improvised feel about a folk duo who don’t do a whole lot. This film amused and frustrated me. Best watched when you’re doing something else as well.

The Sacrament
Religious thriller from indie horror superstar Ti West. Expect spooky cult goings on.

Benny & Jolene – Film Review

Benny & Jolene

Benny & Jolene is an improvised British comedy about a folk duo travelling to their first music festival. That is roughly the extent of the narrative although if I were feeling more generous I could talk about how Jolene (Charlotte Ritchie) finds herself selling out and changing her style to please their record label while Benny (Craig Roberts) finds himself pushed to the sidelines as he pines for Jolene and the music they used to perform. The plot is the bare bones on which the two leads are left to build the body of the film through their performances and improvisations but the result is something slightly less than the sum of its parts.

Roberts has never put a comedic foot wrong since he first caught everyone’s eye in Submarine and Ritchie repeats the awkward funny charm that has helped make Fresh Meat so successful but these two on their best game simply aren’t enough to make a film. There is so little to the film beyond the characters that there is little to keep you engaged from scene to scene. Roberts and Ritchie are fine company but you want them to move their performances to a film with a little more to it. There is no message here, just mildly amusing scene followed by mildly amusing scene.

The improvisational style gives the film a feeling of authenticity that is frustrating as often as it is engaging. Improvisation can lead to small comedy gems within scenes but also leaves each scene to run on far longer than an audience has patience for and results in numerous edits within a single shot that quickly moves from a stylistic choice to a jarring effect that hampers the film’s flow.

The great lead performances almost save the film but at the end of the day the cast simply weren’t given enough to go on. The supporting cast includes the likes of the excellent Dolly Wells and Rosamund Hanson but they suffer a similar fate of doing good work in a weak film. Perhaps I am being too harsh; the film is sweet and funny and was an enjoyable experience but it didn’t give me any real cinematic sustenance. With a little more plot and a stricter script this film has the potential to have been a real winner, instead we’ll have to settle for bronze.

Benny & Jolene is on limited release in the UK from tomorrow.