Mortdecai – Film Review – “Scatter-shot, tediously unfunny and infuriating”


I don’t know who decided it was a good idea for Johnny Depp to appear in any film that was not in the Pirates franchise or directed by Tim Burton. But I do recommend they be swiftly beaten about the side of the head with a blunt instrument for being so ridiculously stupid.

Mortdecai

Johnny Depp as Charlie Mortdecai and his ridiculous moustache (Credit: Liongate)

I’m also unaware of how so much talent, lovely cinematography and £45million can be wasted so dreadfully.

It is scatter-shot, tediously unfunny and it’s infuriating, to watch Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, and Depp himself, stoop to century old sight gags, awful facial hair jokes and actually vomiting to achieve laughs (of which they achieved none).

There is a plot, and it goes like this: Charlie Mortdecai is a wealthy art dealer who resides on a gorgeous country pile with his wife Joanna (Paltrow). As the film opens, the pair owe £8million to the British government and Mortdecai travels the globe to find the missing Goya (a 200 year old painting apparently worth as much as the film’s budget).

The tedious globe-trotting caper grows ever more tiresome by the minute, as Depp attempts to eke more sympathy laughs from the audience with another joke about his moustache.

Now, I can’t be wholly unkind – two of the jokes are funny, there’s one about buggery at Eton that barely mustered a titter and “No I don’t need help with my bags, I have a fucking man-servant” which made me laugh like a teenager. I can’t recommend this film, other than to fashion students because it does look incredible, with razor sharp attention to detail in set design, costume and make-up.

Though it’s worrying when the costume and make-up department are the most creditable of an entire film.

I worry for Johnny Depp, because this is likely to flop like almost all of his post-Pirates ventures (Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, The Tourist, The Rum Diary) and if he’s not careful, acting the fool may become very old very soon. All but those mentioned should be ashamed of this film because it’s dire, dreadfully painful to watch.

Just don’t. Please.

1/5

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Big Hero 6 – Film Review “Disney’s second renaissance continues”


Disney was never going to repeat the success of Frozen, because this is neither about princesses, nor is it musical. It is, however, a barnstorming laugh-a-minute CGI-cum-manga-esque thrill ride, featuring a puberty addled teenager and his adorable inflatable nurse-bot. 

Meet Baymax, the healthcare robot (Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Meet Baymax, the healthcare robot
(Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Set not in New York for a touch of variety, but in an amalgam of San Francisco and Tokyo – Sanfransokyo (which just sounds like you’re trying to pronounce San Francisco after one too many jars on a Friday evening). Which is stunningly realised, with the sprawling cityscape animated with spectacular intricate and referential details.

Based on a little-known Marvel comic book series, Hero is fronted by Hiro (pronounced Hero) a 14-year-old boy inventor – and robofighter. Hiro is barley coping with the recent death of his older brother, Tadashi, in an accident he believes was his fault.

A megalomaniac tries to buy Hiro’s latest invention, a million shape shifting microbots controlled by Hiro through a headband, fails and then decides to steal it anyway – and there we have our villain.

Baymax, a healthcare robot, was invented by Tadashi to heal people. He can analyse you with a full body scan and diagnose EVERY ailment in seconds. He is warm, “like spooning marshmallows”, funny and the most caring robot you’ll ever see. Hiro’s heart still aches from Tadashi’s death, and Baymax will do ANYTHING to make him feel better.

Baymax and Hiro are almost as cute as How to Train Your Dragon’s Hiccup and Toothless, the direction is spot on and the animation is seamlessly and beautifully rendered – with jaw-dropping flight scenes over Sanfransokyo up there with the best from the Dragons films. In intimate moments where Hiro opens his heart to a bemused Baymax, the film soars head and shoulders above ANY film’s emotional awareness.

The colour palette is gorgeous, the action is second only to The Incredibles and the film is laced minute-to-minute with sight-gags that will induce screaming laughter, with Baymax stealing every scene with his deft comic timing.

The script is – as expected – rather child friendly with a few* nudge nudge* *wink wink* moments for the adults to enjoy.

 

I felt that Hiro’s college friends didn’t really get much of a look in, although they partake in some of the best action sequences seen in animation since The Incredibles.

It’s bloody good fun, heartfelt and hilarious. It’s essentially a PG-rated, animated, baby Avengers – with just as many sight gags, crashes and explosions to keep the adults awake.

The film is preceded by a beautifully animated and wonderfully emotional short called ‘Feast’, about a French bulldog and his owner. I don’t mind admitting, I cried – real tears – because it’s simply gorgeously well pitched. Get to the cinema in-time to see it, you’ll thank me.

4/5

Taken 3 – Film Review – “Aslan’s roar has been tamed to a mere meow”


I know what you’re thinking, “What’s been taken THIS time? Neeson’s cat? The piss?”

Liam Neeson in Tak3n (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Liam Neeson in Tak3n (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

The film opens with Brian’s useless daughter (Maggie Grace) all loved up, now in college and newly pregnant. Only she can’t tell her dad, because her fella would probably wind up dangling from the ceiling by his toenails, whilst being beaten with the thick end of a chair leg by Neeson. Which would, admittedly, be a damned sight more entertaining than the first 45 minutes of the film.

Lenore (Famke Jensen) is murdered by some Russians at Brian’s apartment, whilst Brian nips out to buy some bagels – bagels pop up all over the place in the film, in a running joke. Brian returns with bagels, discovers to his horror that Lenore is dead on his bed and is caught red-handed holding the knife – putting him in the frame instantly.

There’s a pre-credits sequence – which most people missed at my viewing – which is only loosely important to the plot. Now it’s important for me to add that all of this – the set-up – takes 45 minutes. Which, in a Taken film, is seriously taking the piss. Brian snaps not a single neck in that time. Lenore should have been killed in the pre-credits sequence – and if you missed it tough shit, you should be on-time to films – ensuing a 120 minute mission to find out who did that and framed Brian. But I’m not a film director, so what do I know?

It’s also worth noting that Lenore’s current husband Stuart (now played by Dougray Scott) is acting all flavours of shady, hiring guards for the house and goons to stop Kim (Maggie Grace) leaving the house. Brian goes on the run from the LAPD, FBI, CIA and chief investigator Forest Whittaker – who spends the whole film effectively chasing his own tail. Whittaker is haunted by the warm bagels he finds at the scene of Lenore’s murder, and buys them throughout the film – for reasons I still don’t fully understand.

So, as the fun FINALLY begins, Neeson proves that he is still pretty bloody spritely for his age, as Brian outruns, outguns and frankly embarrasses the entire US police force. He also attempts to hunt down his ex-wife’s killers – whilst staying off the radar.

Neeson is dependable, brutal and unflappable. His ability to disable practically any human being with his bare hands is still amongst the best entertainment in cinema. Or it would be if you could see it properly.

You see, Hollywood directors have this allergy to tripods, and their editors don’t seem to like shots to last more than 3.2 seconds. Olivier Megaton needs to take some sodding Benadryl though – because the action looks as if it was captured by a camera strapped to a unicycle travelling down flipping Coronation Street.

There isn’t much of a screenplay – though it’s hardly a surprise in a film from this genre. The direction is appallingly inconsistent; Megaton mix-and-matches long, wide, serene landscape shots of L.A, sliced directly in the middle of a car chase.

The worst crime of all, in this film, is it’s pandering to the wider audience. The first film in the franchise was fresh, brutal and unflinchingly violent. There was a style to the hand-to-hand combat and necks snapped with an awesome crack. It carried an 18 rating, and for good reason. Here, it’s embarrassing. It’s all guns blazing and no blood spatter at all. Most people see these films because Neeson makes revenge look exciting, but cathartic. What Megaton has done, is tame Aslan, so now he only “meow” instead of roaring.

Despite the stupid camera work, the boring set-up and the inconsistent direction; Liam Neeson delivers fantastic action scenes, chilling phone calls and brutal – if slightly tame – fight scenes. But I can’t help but feel that he looks totally done with this shit.

2/5

The Upsetting Reality Of Modern Day Poverty.


Are we really all in it together?

kathleen kerridge

This is a post about a subject very close to home.  My home.  It is about politicians who wouldn’t know poverty if it chewed on their overpaid arses.

It’s about Jamie Oliver.

Now, to put this out there, I loved Jamie.  For years and years, I idolised the man.  He taught me to cook, when I could barely operate a Pot Noodle and we lived off Smash (dehydrated potatoes) and pasta (we even overcooked that).  I would watch all his shows and learn, slowly, from the TV.  In less than a year, I was able to cook a three course meal for 15 people.  Gourmet became easy and I was soon laughing my way through 3 meat roasts and cooked-from-scratch curries.  I owe my skill in the kitchen to Jamie.  I have a lot to thank him for.

Jamie Oliver was good to watch, when I had money.  Before I had…

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Black Sea – Film Review “A gripping, unflinching and brutal thriller”


With truly heart-stopping set pieces and moments of breathless danger – the film immerses the audience in claustrophobia reminiscent of Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’

Jude Law and 4 tonnes of gold bullion (Credit: Film 4)

Jude Law and 4 tonnes of gold bullion (Credit: Film 4)

If you’ve seen the classic working class drama ‘Brassed Off’ and believe that’s how all redundancies end up, then you really need to see this film. Broken, depressed, plucky, confident and scheming; (Jude Law) Robinson is down on his luck with a plan to fight back.

Sacked from his job as a submarine pilot at multi-national salvage corporation Agora due to downsizing, Robinson is left destitute. Over a pint in the local, a former colleague divulges word of £40 million worth of gold in a sunken Nazi sub at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Robinson plots a method to get the gold and assembles a motley crew of former comrades and foreign bandits (6 English speaking & 6 Russian), including Ben Mendelsohn (Starred Up, Place Beyond The Pines) as Fraser, with over a century of experience combined.

The crew are promised an equal share of the booty, question is: can they locate it and get out without being detected by the Russian navy?

Law’s Robinson is the film’s lynchpin, grabbing the audience by the scruff of its neck and hurling them straight in at the deep end of the claustrophobic, intense, thrilling action.

The notion of less bodies equating to more booty for the rest overcomes several members of the crew – leading to mutinous acts and a mortality rate stacking up as Robinson struggles with a language divide.

There’s a resonant and gritty authenticity as crew’s strive to better their lives – but the venture exposes the nature of greed in the search of fool’s gold.
Kevin Macdonald’s direction – his best since The Last King of Scotland – keeps the action tight inside the ancient vessel, using Dennis Kelly’s intelligently paced and wrought screenplay as his base. Little to no CGI affirms the realism – retaining the tension of impending doom.

This is Law’s film, in a career-best role, sporting a surprisingly convincing Scottish accent. His gritty, unflinching conviction and dry brutal honesty grips the audience in his iron fist commanding hand.

With truly heart-stopping set pieces and moments of breathless danger – the film immerses the audience in claustrophobia reminiscent of Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’.

A gripping, unflinching and brutal thriller.

*   *   *   *     4/5

Rape needs a new definition, regardless of gender


Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf recently made a statement, an important statement which surprised many peoole in the media, he came out and said he was the victim of a sexual assault. Shia LaBeouf explained that, while staging an interactive, one-on-one performance art project in New York, a woman had sex with him without his consent.

The claim that he was sexually assaulted by a woman has been widely debated. The common cry is that he is ‘attention seeking’ or – even worse – trying to deflect from the accusations of plagiarism that cast him out of favour last year.
But what if it wasn’t so taboo for us to accept that men are just as susceptible to sexual assaults as women? Is it really right that, just because he’s a man, Shia LaBeouf should be labelled an ‘attention seeker’.

Let’s just step back a moment shall we? Forget names and focus solely on context. Forget whatever we think we know about sexual assaults and rape. Let’s look at the facts.
The dictionary definition of rape is: ‘The crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.’ (Oxford Dictionary)
Let’s look at the major sweeping statement there: ‘typically committed by a man’. Why is this accepted? Why is this allowed to be the definition?

Dictionaries are supposed to be impartial – but here’s a piece of gendered bias right there, in print, for posterity.
It’s sexist stereotyping, as defined by the societal norms, by which males are viewed as stronger, more masculine, and inherently violent and predatory.
This definition also implies that women are inferior, that they are weak and incapable of being threatening, and that they can’t be sexually dominant or manipulative.

What this stereotype, and those who speak before thinking, assumes is that a woman cannot rape a man because she cannot stick a fucking penis into him.
To be succinct – this definition is bullshit.
What it’s saying is this: a woman cannot drug a man, restrain him or manipulate his body physically. Oral sex and anal penetration can take place without the consent of a man or woman equally.

According to this definition, objects inserted into a man or unwanted arousal can’t possibly happen, though, because a woman isn’t capable – she’s too weak, isn’t she? Surely a man could just overthrow her? Well … no, actually.
It may have escaped the notice of the team in Oxford, but women can, and frequently do, grow taller, wider and more muscular than a man. They can manipulate a man with the threat of blackmail. They can stimulate his genitals against his wishes. But, most importantly, they can engage in sexual activity with a man without his consent.

See the point you’re not getting is that abuse of power is the root of rape – it’s about evil, messed up perversion, and not someone’s gender.
One rule in the fight against rape culture is that we should always assume that a rape victim is telling the truth. Only then can we correct the imbalance that sees only a tiny proportion of rape charges resulting in a conviction. That’s not to say we’re far from this stage – women who say they have been raped are regularly criticised, ridiculed and subjected to invasive cross-examination.

Suddenly we’re asked to consider why no one else witnessed the attack. We’re called to question why he would say this. But why? Doesn’t all this merely serve to do what rape culture always does – to undermine those who say they have been raped and to make it easier for rapists to get away with it?

I can’t begin to recount how many times I’ve seen people say a woman can’t rape a man. These people don’t seem to understand what rape actually is. Their ideas of rape are utterly bound up in insertive, heterosexual sex – the vaginal kind, usually, although there is an acceptance that anal rape happens too because it involves a penis penetrating another person. But why does rape have to involve a man penetrating someone else?
Here’s a thought – say the definition is right and only men can rape.

We know already that men rape men. But where does that leave gay men who have been forced to have sex with a woman? What if a gay man is sexually assaulted by a woman or forced to sleep with her by a family who wants to ‘correct’ him? Is this okay? Is this less horrific than if that gay man were replaced by a woman?

The core of what I’m saying here is this: rape needs a new definition. The one we have – or the one which people assume to be correct – ins’t working. I suggest this: ‘An act in which a sexual act is conducted upon a person without consent.’ See – not difficult is it?
This is about people doing evil things – REGARDLESS of them being male or female.
What that would mean is that we need to ensure the equal treatment of allegations from both men and women about sexual assaults. Rape is not trivial and regardless of a ‘supposed’ masculinity it can happen to anyone. Mentally, a man may never get over the experience – just as many women can’t.
As long as we make rape solely about men and their penises, rather than about one person abusing their power over another, we can never end rape culture.