31 January 2011

TANGLED- Review

I make no secret of the fact that I heartily enjoyed last year's very traditional Disney outing The Princess and the Frog. I think it's great that John Lasseter is steering the company back towards its roots after Dreamworks and Shrek took up residence in the fairytale movie market. Adding more to the weight of my own anticipation for their new feature Tangled, it's Disney's 50th animated movie, and apparently the second most expensive movie ever made, somehow.

Anyhoo, this $260 million animation (no, really) is essentially the story of Rapunzel, as seen through the lens of the charismatic fugitive Flynn Rider. Flynn is wanted, dead or alive, and he hides out in Rapunzel's tower in order to escape the law. He doesn't count on the long-haired teen being so determined to get out of the tower for a while, and solve the mystery of the floating lanterns that fill the sky every year on her birthday.

28 January 2011

BlogalongaBond- DR. NO Review

If you're unfamiliar with the idea of BlogalongaBond, and thought it was actually the name of some Bizarro villain from the Bond series like my frequent collaborator Rob Simpson, head over The Incredible Suit for his explanation of the rather clever idea. Essentially, there are 22 months from now until the release of the 23rd James Bond film, so I'm joining in with reviewing the other 22 films, one per month, between now and then.

First up is Dr. No, in which we meet our hero, James Bond, as played by Sean Connery. He works for MI6, he shags a lot of women, and if you're quite earnestly following this obligatory explanation of who the character is, then it's probable that you have never heard of the cinema before now. In his first adventure, a fellow agent has been murdered while working abroad. Bond goes to Jamaica to puzzle it out and ends up locking horns with the titular doctor on his island base.

26 January 2011

THE DILEMMA- Review

Whenever Vince Vaughn seems to be having fun, you know it's going to hurt.
On Monday, we saw that a romantic comedy can be salvaged from mediocrity or outright awfulness by good casting. Today, we see how a romantic comedy that features Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder, directed by Ron Howard, can be utterly fucked up by becoming Vince Vaughn-centric.

The Dilemma has a simple plot, or it should, anyway. Ronny is a reformed gambling addict who looks up to his best friend Nick and his wife Geneva. Ronny and Nick are in business together, and they're on the cusp of selling a new engine design to Dodge when Ronny catches Geneva in an affair with another man. His dilemma is in whether or not he should spill the beans to Nick as their deadline with Dodge approaches.

24 January 2011

MORNING GLORY- Review

Once in a while, somebody cracks the code and puts out a romcom that has likeable characters and a properly funny and talented cast. To be fair to Morning Glory, it's as much a workplace comedy as a romantic comedy, and it's also a satire about breakfast programming, albeit a very fluffy one.

Rachel McAdams plays Becky Fuller, a hardworking and dedicated TV executive of the kind usually played much worse by Katherine Heigl. When she loses her job on a local breakfast show, she finds herself begging for a job nobody else wants on another network, presenting their apocalyptically bad breakfast magazine show, "Daybreak". With six weeks to turn the show around, she begins making changes to get Daybreak up to scratch, starting with hiring veteran anchor Mike Pomeroy to bolster the show's credibility.

21 January 2011

BLACK SWAN- Review

Let's get this out of the way, as I've already said it on Twitter and I'm tired of hearing it from people. To call Black Swan porn is pretty much the same as calling Brokeback Mountain porn. Both feature homosexual sex scenes as the minor part of the larger story, and you'd be wrong to call either pornographic. So shut the fuck up. Righto then!

In Black Swan, Nina Sayers is a dedicated ballerina who bags the lead role of the Swan Queen in her company's radical new take on Swan Lake. She seems the perfect embodiment of the White Swan, all lightness and fragility and innocence, but her role also comprises the dark twin, the Black Swan. As opening night draws closer, Nina finds that releasing her self control might be the only way to succeed. As her preparation transcends her performance, the Black Swan takes her into a psychological nightmare.

19 January 2011

HENRY'S CRIME- Review

It's been said that there isn't a Keanu Reeves film out there that wouldn't be better without Keanu Reeves in it. I can think of at least five films where that's not true, but I'm sad to consign Henry's Crime to the other pile. Keanu stars as Henry, who joins Lara Brennan and Kenny Waters this January as an innocent victim of a miscarriage of justice.

In this case, he's an accidental accessory to armed robbery, and he gets three years. He comes out of prison on parole, resolved to commit the robbery he was imprisoned for- if he did the time, he might as well do the crime for good measure. To that end, he enlists veteran inmate Max to come and help him once he gets out of prison too, and ingratiates himself with frustrated actress Julie, who is rehearsing in a theatre just down the street from the bank.

17 January 2011

THE GREEN HORNET- Review

There are a number of things that may seem alien to one another when mentioned in the same sentence, and the marriage of two such elements can often provoke dread and preconceptions. Now that Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels has been and gone, we find a matrimony between Seth Rogen, Michel Gondry and The Green Hornet rolling into cinemas.

The story hasn't much changed- it's an easy one to update, hence coming to fruition after a lengthy development period as something entirely different to the original idea of a Green Hornet movie. The bare bones are the same though- Britt Reid is the heir to a journalism empire who's given a new sense of responsibility after his father dies. He then bonds with the elder Reid's mechanic, Kato, who's also an expert martial artist and a damn fine coffee-maker. The two of them launch a hare-brained scheme to be superheroes who pose as supervillains to get close to the criminals of Los Angeles, and thus the Green Hornet is born.

14 January 2011

CONVICTION- Review

There has to be a point, sometime soon, where we all have to sit up and pay Sam Rockwell his dues. It's not that he isn't already appreciated by a great deal of film fans, but after giving the best performance of 2009 in Moon and promptly not getting any awards recognition to that tune, he's got to be one of the best and most underrated actors working today.

His latest role in Conviction may be a supporting turn, but he is so much of what elevates a formulaic legal procedural above the level of a weekday afternoon TV movie on Five. Rockwell plays Kenny Waters, a man seemingly framed by the police department and sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder. The film itself is the true story of his sister Betty Anne, who spends the best part of two decades trying to exonerate him, first by going to law school and later by trying to untangle the legal and bureaucratic issues around his original trial.

12 January 2011

SEASON OF THE WITCH- Review

After a banner 2010 saw him at his weirdest and best in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, doing some hilarious crowd-pleasing in Kick-Ass, and even being better than average in his usual Disney live-action outing, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, how does Nicolas Cage choose to start 2011? Naturally, he reverts back to exactly the kind of rubbish we've seen him coast along on before last year's outings got people interested in him again.

His latest betrayal of his fanbase goes by the name of Season of the Witch, and he plays Behmen, a knight who deserts from the Crusades with his comrade and best friend, Felson. They're caught out in a small parish that's troubled by the Black Death, and commanded by church officials to take an accused witch across country to a place where her evil can be put to an end. It's believed her witchcraft is the cause of the plague, and Behmen is less easily convinced that the young woman in his charge is guilty.

10 January 2011

127 HOURS- Spoiler Review

Right, here's how it's going to go. The real Aron Ralston has been on This Morning to talk about his story and this film based on that story, so I assume it's pretty common knowledge. So if you've somehow avoided hearing about what happens at the end of 127 Hours and just think the trailer looks cool, my short spoiler-free review follows. Everything after the jump will contain SPOILERS.

On a basic level, I don't think 127 Hours is close to Danny Boyle's best, and I say that as a fan. His version of Aron Ralston's ordeal is sometimes more overpowering than powerful, and I'm not talking about the much-hyped violent scenes. His direction here is often over-stylised to the point that it actually distracts from the great performance by James Franco. Comparisons to Buried loom large. It's still definitely worth a look, unless your tummy is easily upset by graphic bodily harm.

SPOILERS, and my full review, will commence after the jump...

7 January 2011

THE NEXT THREE DAYS- Review

Nestled in between a bit of true excellence in The King's Speech and Nicolas Cage doing his paycheck thing in Season of the Witch, let's not forget that there's room this weekend for a decent drama like The Next Three Days. Coming from writer-director Paul Haggis and starring Russell Crowe, it's got all of the high Oscar calibre of The King's Speech with none of the heavy-handed approach of 127 Hours (review coming on Monday).

Crowe plays John Brennan, whose idyllic family life is torn asunder when his wife Lara is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in prison. John knows her well enough that he never stops believing in her innocence, but all of the evidence signifies that she's guilty. When her latest appeal is denied, Lara has already been behind bars for three years, and it's time to resort to desperate measures- John must break Lara out of prison and flee the country.

5 January 2011

THE KING'S SPEECH- Review

There's a certain type of film that comes out around awards season, and The King's Speech broadly fits into it. I don't mean British period drama, a sub-set that seems to fascinate Americans and particularly Academy voters, but a film that markets historical events to its audience with the same maniacal fervour as Bill Murray's network executive hocks his version of A Christmas Carol in Scrooged. ("They have got to be so scared to miss it, so terrified!")

The story itself concerns Prince Albert, the Duke of York, and his problems with a debilitating speech impediment. His sympathetic wife seeks slightly unorthodox help for Albert from a jobbing Australian actor called Lionel Logue, and the two make some progress together as they strike up an uneasy friendship. Matters escalate however when Albert is suddenly bumped up a couple of places in the line of succession to the throne. As war looms over Europe, Britain needs a king who can speak straight...

3 January 2011

10 Films I Can't Wait To See In 2011

Does anyone remember the last time I did one of these? Reality so often disappoints our expectations, but I'm confidently saying that the ten films mentioned herein will be better on average than the two out of five success rate on my previous picks.

With 2010 done and dusted, what cinematic pleasures does 2011 hold? These are the films I'm most looking forward to at the top of 2011. Think of this as a "Coming Soon" trailer for the next year on the blog, in how it's highlighting the best of what's to come and being curiously unrepresentative of the catastrophic rants in between...

2 January 2011

The Mad Prophet's Top 25 Films of 2010- #10-1

"Them bad films can't hurt you no more..."

We are now in Flavour Country. Here come my top ten favourite films of 2010, and you can see what they are, after the jump...

1 January 2011

The Mad Prophet's Bottom 10 Films of 2010

Happy New Year! Out with the old, in with the new, and whatnot! We'll miss 2010, as we're thrust into the cold light of 2011. As we leave behind cinema like Inception and The Social Network and squint at the uncertain future to be had in a whole year's worth of upcoming movies. As we slowly and sickeningly realise that we're once again in a year that has a new Transformers film scheduled for release.

But you know, 2010 wasn't all great. If I compile a bottom 10 list, for instance, there still wouldn't be enough room for some of the really rubbish stuff. I'd have to give dishonourable mentions to such joyless films as From Paris With Love and Wall Street- Money Never Sleeps and Takers just because I couldn't fit them into the ten spaces available.

What would that look like, that bottom 10? Seeing as how we're waiting around for the final 10 favourites, let's pinch our noses and have a gander...