new release

New Release Review- Big Trouble in Little China, 1986

Available from the 1st January on Netflix UK

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Everybody knows I love John Carpenter and Big Trouble in Little China is not Carpenters best film, but it is an action comedy jammed full of fun. Before watching Big Trouble in Little China the only Carpenter films I’d seen had been very much seated in the horror genre. BUT despite not being the type of horror film I know Carpenter for the whole thing is drenched in his style.

Trucker Jack Burton (Kurt Russell- who also starred in Tarantino’s Death Proof available on Netflix UK) agrees to pick up his friend Wang Chi’s (Dennis Dun) fiance at the airport with him. Of course things don’t go to plan and we delve into a fantasy adventure where good an evil collide. See, the evil sorcerer Lo Pan must marry a girl with emerald eyes to regain his physical form – and unfortunately for Wang Chi, his fiance, and Jack Burton, she is a beautiful women with emerald green eyes.

It’s great fun, with superb pacing, and some truly memorable costume design and characters. There’s even some weird supernatural monsters in the mix. You know, cause it’s awesome- and they look awesome, but what else would you expect from Carpenter? He’s know for his special- effects movies.

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Ultimately Big Trouble in Little China is an easy going movie, the type of movie you can just get enjoyment out of without diving too deep into anything. It looks great, it feels great and it’s never boring- go watch it!!!!

5/5

New Release Review- Mistress America, 2015

Available from the 7th December on ITunes, blinkbox, Amazon Instant Video, Virgin Movies, TalkTalk Box Office, eir Vision Movies, Google Play

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If I’m not in my body then where am I?

Five feet to the left and unhappy.

Mistress America is strangely accomplished and cheesy at the same time. Noah Baumbach presents us with something so punchy and relentless and fast paced that it becomes just so enjoyable to watch.

Tracy (Lola Kirke) has just started college in New York, she is lonely and nervous and struggles to make new friends. That is until she calls her soon to be step sister Brooke (Greta Gerwig) and a strange relationship ensues. I can only describe it as Nick/ Gatsby- esque with the fast talker Brooke naturally taking on the Gatsby role.

With well written characters (screenplay from Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach) and well presented characters it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Brooke, played by Gerwig, is a central piece to this film. The acting performance from both Gerwig and Kirke is to be commended as is the writing provided by Gerwig and Baumbach. Add that to the feel good sound track with music that feels as if it has been taken right from a Joy Division album and I’m sold on this film.

Mistress America is an exploration of family, of marriage, generations and, of course, the struggle we all face in finding out who we are and what we want- and it does it well. There are moments, moments that most films like this will face, where the whole thing is veering towards an ending so cheesy and fake it could have ruined the whole thing. Mistress America avoids this and takes us to a place of harsh reality and comforting conclusion in knowing our characters will be okay.

4/5

New Release Review- Midnight in Paris, 2011

Available from 24th November on Amazon Prime Instant

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When couple, Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachael McAdams), take a trip to Paris Gil cannot help but use the opportunity as a way to gain inspiration for a novel he’s been struggling to write. Then, as if all his hopes are handed to him on a plate, he is transported back to Paris in the 1920’s- at midnight of course. He meets a whole host of famous writers and artists from Picasso to Hemingway, and the movie really begins.

As a student studying English at University the idea of being transported away to a time when these people existed, and then actually getting to meet them, was immediately fascinating to me. Even though I was consciously aware that this is not how these people would have spoken or acted they were still wonderfully engaging characters on film. Honestly an all round beautiful movie, but how could it not be when it’s set in one of the most magnificent cities in the world, Paris. Paris is just, if not more, important to this film than the characters are and we’re treated to some truly beautiful shots of it.

There isn’t one weak acting performance in this but with a cast whose members include Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Tome Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Corey Stoll as Hemingway (some of my favorite performances in the film) there wasn’t really any danger of that. Add that to an undeniably charming script and some great visuals and you find yourself watching Midnight in Paris. It’s hard not to like this film.

From being genuinely funny to quite profound, and sometimes even ridiculous, this movie doesn’t disappoint. It’s a vibrant depiction of Paris and a romantic look at life.

4/5

New Release Review- Nebraska, 2013

Avaliable from 14th November on Netflix UK

Alexander Payne’s 2013 black and white drama Nebraska is a beautiful film- from cinematography to plot there isn’t a weak element. When a film looks like this it can be off putting in an era where bright feel- good films power through the box office, but don’t take Nebraska at face value- I mean everything looks good in black and white anyway, right? This film certainly does.

Bruce Dern and Will Forte play a father/ son duo and together they steer this movie forward, with great acting on both sides. Woody (Bruce Dern) is an aging, alcoholic, confused man who believes he has won a million dollars- but has to get to Nebraska to retrieve it. David (Will Forte) is his recently single, concerned son, looking to spend time with his father and ultimately decides to help Woody get to Nebraska. Of course things like these are never easy and this simple road trip turns into a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

After Woody convinces his home town, and many family members that this clear scam to win a million dollars is real it’s hard to see a happy ending in sight. Old friends and family members try to convince Woody that he owes them money- he was an alcoholic after all, drinking his money away.

At times this movie seems extremely bleak but as Nebraska wraps itself up it leaves you feeling good. The ending is simple but effective, of course he didn’t actually win the money, but that doesn’t mean the film has to end up in a bad place, and thankfully it didn’t.

4.5/5

New Release Review- Ex Machina, 2015

Available from the 6th of November on NOW TV

Alex Garland’s sci- fi thriller looks amazing. Seriously, I could not take my eyes off this film. The design is wonderful but the film is never hiding behind it’s visual elements. Ex Machina is exploring ideas of intelligence, of the self aware- for both robot and man. Of course the idea of advanced AI isn’t anything new, but this film still feels fresh. At times Ex Machina even has the atmosphere of a horror film, Alex Garland building tension so expertly you just know something’s going to happen and it’s going to be amazing when it does.

When Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition to meet the head of the company he works for (Oscar Isaac) things take a strange turn when he is invited to test a piece of AI. As the tension builds towards the final act we’re not quite sure what, or who to believe. You’ll find your self sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next- helped along by Oscar Isaac, whose performance plays up Ex Machina’s sinister mood- there’s something about this film that will give you the creeps. Even Ava (Alicia Vikander), the advanced AI with a pretty face, seems a little too bizarre. Is it just because she’s a robot or is there something more going on? It really is a great film.

Ex Machina pays off in the final act, it has plenty of gruesome twists and disturbing imagery that takes this film to the next level. It is both an awesome science fiction movie and an ‘edge- of- your- seat’ thriller.

4/5

New Release Review- Manglehorn, 2014

Available from the 2nd November on Virgin Movies, eir Vision Movies, TalkTalk Box Office, Amazon Instant Video, blinkbox, iTunes

David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn should not be missed. It’s a beautiful piece of cinema that deserves to be watched. Sure, it’s not fast paced and the plot is simple at best, but you just can’t help being sucked in by the wonderful cast of characters and the beautiful visual elements the film offers. With great lighting and surreal edits there’s a mood to this film that’s hard not to fall in love with. If you’ve got the time and patience for Manglehorn I highly recommend you give it a watch.

Manglehorn (Al Pacino) is a Texas key maker who spends most of his time looking after his cat and obsessing over a lost love. He is cynical at times, but mostly he is only plodding through life giving his son lectures on priorities while having very few of his own. At times it’s painfully awkward, Manglehorn just can’t help saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, almost always. You’ll be squirming from the gracelessness of this character, yet somehow it makes the film only better to watch. When a new love comes in you gain some hope for old Manglehorn, of course he has to mess up  before happiness can be achieved.

Ultimately this film isn’t cynical, although it can be at times. It’s about starting over, starting again, and gaining happiness- even if it is late in life. It’s utterly absorbing, a film full of character, and strangely attractive in it’s simplicity.

4/5

New Release Review- Slow West, 2015

Avaliable from 2nd November on Virgin Movies, eir Vision Movies, TalkTalk Box Office, Amazon Instant Video, blinkbox and iTunes.

I don’t know about you but I love a good Western, and I cannot be more excited that it’s making a come back. Don’t believe me? Check out the trailers for The Revenant and The Hateful Eight.

John Maclean’s Slow West isn’t some snail- paced stereotypical Western film as the name suggests. In reality this film is packed full with great actors (Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit- McPhee to name two) with enough compelling story and visual to make this a great movie. It’s tense and stylish with just a touch of humor. As a directorial debut John Maclean has certainly proved himself as both a great writer and a wonderful director.

When Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit- McPhee) travels to America to find his lost love he meets Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) and some strange, almost father- son style relationship ensues. With a great score we move through the story with them, witnessing the horrors they do and ending up in an all- out gun fight. What a brilliant 84 minutes of film! Slow West propels it’s self mostly on minimal dialogue and striking characters, but that’s not all this film has to offer. It’s also almost Romantic, and it’s definitely cynical, a little dark, but at the same time there’s some kind of good feeling behind it all.

Slow West is a cool film, visually engaging with strong characters and a feeling behind it that makes you wish it was a little longer than 84 minutes.

4.5/ 5

New Release Review- Sucker Punch, 2011

Available from 4th November on Amazon Prime

I’ve heard this is a love it or hate it movie. Spoiler: I hated it, which is a shame because with a name like ‘Sucker Punch’ it sounds like you’re in for one hell of an awesome movie.

Zack Snyder is desperately trying to deliver something new, something powerful in this comic book/ video game- esque film, Sucker Punch, but it doesn’t quite deliver. Our protagonists, led by ‘Baby Doll’ (Emily Browning), are plastic wrap, see-through and unimpressive. They’re wearing nothing and there’s not much going on behind the visual, no character development, nothing.

I wanted to love this film, I really did, but I couldn’t. I wanted this film to be about empowerment but it wasn’t. Something went terribly wrong somewhere. Perhaps the thought of a crazy, fast paced, jam- packed movie was the studios/ Snyder’s attempt at disguising these not- so- much characters and the not- so- much plot; but ultimately you can’t slam great visuals on something and expect it to save the rest of the movie. It just doesn’t work.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, the concept behind this movie is good, I won’t deny that. Video games, imagination, mental health are all big themes, with huge areas for exploring in contemporary film, unfortunately Snyder cannot do them justice in Sucker Punch. It seems, or at least feels like there’s a lot of skill in this movie and it’s being wasted on what is, well, a bad film. And, yeah, the movie does look great, but it’s only a bad video game- great graphics but no story to back it up.

All things considered, I’m not mad at Sucker Punch, I can see why people would want to, and love to watch it, I just wish I hadn’t.

1 / 5

New Release: Howl, 2015

Available from 26th October on Virgin Movies/ EE / TalkTalk/ Eircom/ Amazon Instant Video/ Google Play

It’s a little bit trashy, it’s a little bit fun- I love werewolf films!!

When the mundane life of this train guard meets more- man- than- wolf werewolves it certainly is amazing. Ed Speleers plays both parts of his characters (Joe, the train guard) story, from down- on- his- luck to rising hero, respectively, extremely well. The supporting cast aren’t half bad either.

Of course the most exciting part of any werewolf film is the costume/ CGI- did they do this mythical monster justice? Paul Hyett’s Howl did. There’s plenty of teaser, and it’s done right. Howl makes you really (and I mean really) want to see the creatures face, and then does’t disappoint when it delivers. Genuinely creepy, genuinely terrifying – I for one am going to be seeing these things in my nightmares for weeks.

Brilliant film to watch on Halloween, in my opinion.

Spoiler alert: You see the werewolves in the trailer so be like me and skip the trailer if you’re going to watch this film!

3.5/ 5