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Happy Chocolate Egg Day!!!! :D


Confused? Egg day, day of new life, egg-based pokemon, right?

Yesterday I decided that perhaps I really ought to get hold of some chocolate eggs for the big day only to discover that they'd ALL GONE. All sold out! Never had this problem before. Didn't even know to expect it.

So anyway, I hope everyone else intending to gorge themselves on chocolate eggs successfully got theirs in time. And I hope everyone is enjoying a well deserved break.

Finally, I'll just leave you with this link to a Daily Mash article snarking about the true 'reason for the season':
"Jesus died to give us two bank holidays"

The Double (2014)

This is the second film to be directed by Richard Ayodade, who is probably most well known for his role as Morris Moss the hilarious geek from "The IT Crowd". His first film "Submarine" was a somewhat darkly comic coming-of-age film. As a follow-up "The Double" is also darkly comic, but with rather higher aspirations since it is based on Dostoyevsky's novel (of the same name).

"The Double" is the sort of comedy where a character works in a boring job, lives in a cramped flat, and where a large number of people are committing suicide. This is not a laugh-a-minute kind of comedy, but at sometimes the surrealism of the film is very funny and on occasion there really are lines that are hysterical. Like with the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man", the majority of the jokes are at the protagonist's expense, so there's the same balance between empathy for the protagonist and hilarity at his misfortunes. All the while with a sinister setting in the background.

Right from the start, "The Double" is beautiful. In the very first scene we see the light dancing around as Jesse Eisenberg is sitting on a train. The lighting effect makes this grimy and plain setting look absolutely beautiful and the film looks similarly bland or grimy and yet beautiful all the way through the film.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "The Double"...Collapse )

All the Final Destination Movies...


As I began working through these films I had only seen the second one. I hadn't actually seen the first one at all. The poster was like a lot of posters at the time and while there appear to be some who think that "Scream" was rescuing the horror genre, it led to an awful lot of horror movie posters showcasing 'hot' young actors all lined up. One look at the original "Final Destination" poster had me convinced that I would never want to see it any more than I wanted to see "I Know What You Did Last Summer" or the "House on Haunted Hill" remake. During this era a bunch of trendy attractive kids lined up on the video box cover was bad news and if I hadn't recognised Robert Rodriguez' name I might never have watched and loved "The Faculty".

My general rule of thumb back when these came out? If it has a line of pretty young teenagers on the cover... don't bother.

I think it was only when studios were releasing the third Final Destination film that I actually came to understand what the purpose of the films actually was and finally checked out the second movie when it was on tv. I thought "Final Destination 2" was trashy but fun, but having heard that the films were only going downhill I was disinclined to check out the fourth movie terribly quickly. For one, I had already missed movie three and also making 3D a big selling point was a complete turnoff for me.

But the central premise intrigued me in these movies. Not the psychic stuff. (Seriously, when I heard that this film was about psychic visions I thought it sounded unbelieveably stupid.) Rather the idea that little coincidences could line up to lead to your death. I think the concept might have its origins with the "Omen" movies. Damien the Antichrist rarely actually confronts people in order to kill them in those movies. Often they'll be visited by some kind of animal, but in many cases the power of Satan just seemed to work through simple coincidences. Weird unexplainable accidents would serve to finish off characters. It's a really interesting idea that death is potentially everywhere you look and that ordinary events from getting in a lift, to walking down stairs, to simply enjoying your dinner all have the potential to be life-threatening activities.

Final Destination (2000)

The first movie in the series isn't expecting you to know what is coming and it takes its time setting things up. It hints and nods to what might possibly be on the way, but in the most bizarre way. There's an opening credits scene which focusses on a fan turning from side to side blowing into the room, while in the room there's reference to um... the black plague? Seriously, I have no idea what the opening scene is trying to suggest, but simply that it's way too long and boring as hell.
Click here to read the rest of the review...Collapse )

Final Destination 2 (2003)

The director of the first movie, James Wong, did not come back for this first sequel. Clearly he thought he'd done everything with the series he wanted to, at this stage at least.
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Final Destination 3 (2006)

It has been pointed out to me that that the psychic technically should have prevented the whole disaster this time around. In the intricate death sequence at the beginning (all the movies have one), which really wasn't as thrilling as it wants you to think it is, appears to be mainly the result of a character's handheld video camera. That character is one of those that are rescued, he brings the camera with him, therefore the whole catastrophe should have been entirely averted. There should have been been rather more survivors for death to pursue this time around rather than the small group numbering less than ten that we actually have here. But anyway...
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The Final Destination (2009)

Somehow the choice to make 3D a big selling point for this one seems to lead to some rather cheesy CG effects. There's no magic camera this time. Instead we are back to visions. We have a number of cryptic and rather awkward to decipher imagery using some fairly naff CG effects. But what really matters here are the death sequences.
Click here to read the rest of the review...Collapse )

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Finally we have a film from a new director. You wouldn't know it though. The problem with Final Destination 5 is that it tries to combine elements from both director's styles and ends up being a poor imitation of both.

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The Exorcist (1973)

In light of my recent dissatisfaction with the box office smash hit horror movie "The Conjuring" I decided to go back to the source. The granddaddy of all exorcism movies: "The Exorcist".

Recently a number of films have tried to revisit this genre including: The Rite (seemingly promoting a rise in Catholic exorcisms under Pope Benedict), The Possession (involving a Jewish exorcist) and the tv series "Apparitions" (involving a quite liberal priest in a larger-than-life story written by an atheist who's done their research).

I considered including The Exorcist in a list of films involving a fear of children. However, I'm not sure this film fits on the list. The child is always posed very much as a victim. The religious view being that the child is subject to a demon possession. The sceptical position being that time kind of issue with the brain or psychological issue is causing her to act in a bizarre and hostile way.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "The Exorcist"...Collapse )
"Almost Home" is a really sweet and funny short film also acting as a trailer for the upcoming animated movie "Home".

(video link)

I think it's good that this is a role that seems to suit Steve Martin's over-the-top delivery. While I know some people are inclined to suggest that Steve Martin is past it, I have to say that the performances I've liked best from him have generally been later in his career - my favourite being "Bowfinger".

This short film is funny, pretty and emotionally touching, so if the full movie manages to keep that up it could be quite wonderful.

Good Vibrations (2012)

I was a little worried when this seemed to be trying to be quirky at the beginning. There's a strange little sequence to indicate that our protagonist lost an eye when he was younger and an insistance that he will see the world differently as a result. (Actually missing an eye means that, through that eye at least, you won't be seeing anything. But let's move on.)

This is a film based on real life and our protagonist is Terri Hooley who ended up being a really important figure in the music scene in Ireland at the height of 'the troubles'.

The situation in Ireland seems to be very easy to misrepresent on film, so it was good here to see people with a real handle on how things actually worked. (As much as I love the series "Burn Notice" the episode where Fiona meets back up with one of her old IRA pals was pretty cringeworthy. The writers seemed to have absolutely no conception of how horrible the situation in Ireland really was and wanted to make it a matter of 'good guys' and 'bad guys' rather than a horrifying mess.)

Terri (played by Richard Dormer) finds that his friends get pulled into either side of the conflict in Northern Ireland and he generally finds that he's too left-wing for either of them, making things pretty dangerous. Early in the film he falls in love with Ruth (played by Jodie Whittaker from "Attack The Block" and "Venus"), but Terri decides that they are not going to leave Belfast. They are not going to let the violence stop them.

Click here for the rest of my review of "Good Vibrations"...Collapse )

Here's some examples of the punk rock music from the movie. There's some pretty great stuff here:

(video link)

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The Nanny (1965)

A later Bette Davis performance. A child comes home from a special school intended to sort out his poor behaviour. In the house the boy's mother seems highly reliant on the nanny and she's seen more like part of the family than as a paid assistant, but the boy himself is rude to her and refuses to have anything to do with her.

The central child actor is brilliant and the interplay between him and the excellent Bette Davis is wonderful. The film very cleverly teases out all the details of their odd rivalry and there are actually some quite twisted moments.

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Three more films in my John Hughes retrospective. I've been working backwards from John Hughes' final directing credit "Curly Sue" to his directorial début "Sixteen Candles". So far I reviewed "Curly Sue", "Uncle Buck" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" in the first instalment which you can find here. Below I review "She's Having A Baby", "Weird Science" and "The Breakfast Club".

In my reverse retrospective, "She's Having A Baby" should have come after "Uncle Buck". However, in desperation I jumped straight into "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" - with unfortunate results. So having received my worst John Hughes experience of all time from the movie enjoyed by 47 out of 50 reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes (94%), I figured that "She's Having A Baby", with a score of 48% was unlikely to be any worse.

She's Having A Baby (1988)

There was brief ray of hope in the opening scenes of this movie when it had a sort of Coen Brothers, black comedy feel to it. Our central protagonists are about to get married and their extended families on either side of the Church are utterly unimpressed by the pairing and often badmouthing the other family.

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I was trepidatious about revisiting this one. This retrospective hasn't been fantastic, I didn't remember this film being the best thing ever and had every expectation that, in the light of Hughes other films, it would turn out to be awful. But I decided to trust my 14 year old self that this would be a lot more fun than the last few John Hughes films.

Weird Science (1985)

The premise of this movie initially sounds appalling. A couple of teenage losers who cannot seem to get a girlfriend decide to use their computer and make themselves a woman. But you have to realise that it is very much an accident that they are successful. It's more of a computer-centred ritual rather than an engineering job, with cultish behaviour like wearing bras on their heads playing a part. The woman they create appears to have magic powers and in the end of the end this is like a modern story about a genie granting wishes.
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So, with my faith in Hughes mostly restored, it was now time to check out his most highly acclaimed film: "The Breakfast Club". I knew nothing about what to expect. All I knew was that it was supposed to be the big highlight of this retrospective.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

It did not take long for me to start hating this film. It doesn't seem like a great decision to put your moral in voiceover narration at the title credits, but I suppose the point was that we were supposed to recognise the clichés that are listed in the characters. The initial narration tells the teacher not to judge his pupils in simple pigeon-holed stereotypes which are listed as: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I haven't found many people who shared my love for the first of the Amazing Spider-Man films. I actually said at the time that I preferred it to "Avengers Assemble" and I continue to hold that opinion. I think part of the appeal is that I was a fan of the Spider-Man comics in my teens and it was great to finally see the character properly realised on the big screen. (I've never really thought that the character played by Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's films had much resemblance to Peter Parker.) The first Amazing Spider-Man film was laugh-out-loud funny, well choreographed, emotionally touching and a major selling point was the fantastic chemistry between Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey. It was an absolute delight for me.

So with that in mind, it should come as little surprise that I didn't think this second Spider-Man movie was as good. While the studios have clear plans for the series to go on forever, the director Marc Webb has a trilogy of movies in mind before he passes the reins to a new director and this feels very much like an awkward middle-child of a trilogy.

But I should make clear right now that all the elements within the movie are brilliant. While comedy isn't the main focus and I didn't think this was quite as funny as the first film, there were points where I laughed out loud. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is still smoking hot and now that Peter Parker is less awkward in the relationship, he's able to be extremely charming. Some of the funniest moments actually involve their realistic interactions as a couple. A major strength of this superhero franchise over any other is definitely that it is the only one where the love interest is a highlight rather than an obligatory extra.

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