Archive | Film reviews

An archive of the blog's film reviews. There's also an archive and an A-Z index of all reviews.


November 21, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Cara Fi, The Comeback, Neville's Island, Robocop (2014), Constantine and The Fall

Posted on November 21, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

First, I’ll apologise in advance for the typos: I’m just heading out the door to watch The Imitation Game.

Anwyay, we’re nearing Thanksgiving and the Christmas season (aka ‘December’) which means that viewing options are starting to drop off, new shows are few and far between, and old shows are giving us their mid-season finales. But I have watched a couple of new things, including State of Affairs, which I’ve reviewed elsewhere.

Cara Fi (UK: S4C)
A dying Welsh village puts the faces of its single men on the sides of milk cartons to attract women there. Starring Dave Coaches (Steffan Rhodri) from Gavin & Stacey, it’s pretty gentle, not especially romantic comedy with a sad basis in reality. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it’s a different change of pace from the usual fare and it clips along decently enough.

The Comeback (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Lisa Kudrow plays a fading, once semi-famous actress, trying to use reality TV to make a comeback, only to discover that she might get a second chance, playing a thinly veiled pastiche version of herself in a sitcom. Technically the show’s second season, it’s first season airing in 2005, and since then, most of its young stars (Kellan Lutz, Malin Akerman) have gone on to better things, although Akerman makes a cameo in the first episode, Lutz lined up for a later appearance. However, as with the first season, this is such an insider TV show that even though I’ve been writing about TV and US TV for the best part of two decades, even I found it a bit niche. More damningly, I didn’t laugh once. Fans says the show’s simply ahead of the curve, in which case I’ll probably find it funny in 10 years’ time, but seeing as most of it is cringe comedy and laughing at people who’ve fallen on hard times, maybe not.

I’ve also watched a movie:

Robocop (2014)
Remake of the 1980s ‘classic’, this hits neither the original’s lows nor its highs, loses virtually all the satire, and ditches Nancy Allen’s tough female partner for Omar from The Wire. Nevertheless, the story of a murdered cop turned into a cybernetic police officer for a privatised police force does actually do some interesting and different things, looking at the concepts of free will, the nature of perception, media manipulation, the disabled, prosthetics, and the tensions between altruistic science and those funding it. It’s certainly not memorable and will probably be forgotten about soon enough, but it’s nevertheless a pretty decent film that would probably be a lot more noticeable and notable were it not for the original.

And I’ve been to the theatre, too.

Neville’s Island (Duke of York's)
Four Northern middle managers (Neil Morrissey, Adrian Edmondson, Miles Jupp, Robert Webb) go the wrong way on an outward bounds course and end up stuck on an island in the Lake District. How will they get on together? Will they escape? And will any of them go mad and attack the others? I’m not saying, but it’s a fun play which ultimately doesn’t say a whole lot, but is entertaining nevertheless, with some good performances. It also features one of the best sets I’ve ever seen – or smelt. Seriously, that’s some moist piney goodness they’ve got going on there.

After the jump, I’ll be running through: Arrow, Constantine, Elementary, The Fall, The Flash, Forever, Gotham, Gracepoint, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Newsroom and Scorpion.

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November 7, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Interstellar, Arrow, Gotham, Elementary and Plebs

Posted on November 7, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Despite the fact a couple of shows in the US have decided to take a wee break this week, the moving of "What have you been watching?” to a Friday hasn’t quite solved my backlog issues. So I haven’t yet watched this week’s The Affair or Jane The Virgin – which might be telling me something, or might not be. Otherwise, I’m up to date.

Elsewhere, I reviewed The McCarthys and I managed to watch a movie this evening:

Interstellar (2014)
Christopher Nolan’s latest. Christopher Nolan is, of course, a genius and Interstellar is another convention-defying, mainstream movie industry-defying blockbuster with little busting or indeed action. Three of its biggest stars are only revealed halfway through and the whole thing is set in some dystopian near future where the Earth is dying and our only hope is for Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway to travel through a wormhole to a distant galaxy and try to find a new planet. An odd combination of 2001, 2010, Silent Running, Planet of the Apes and, erm, Signs, it’s thoughtful, tries its best with science – it’s one of the few movies to even attempt to have the repercussions of relativity as a main plot point, let alone worry about whether a black hole is spinning or not in order for its singularity to be of the right kind, or try to simulate five dimensions with just two – and has some lovely outer space bits filmed in Iceland.

But I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a genius, too, because virtually all the twists and turns the movie runs through seemed blindingly obvious to me. I saw them all coming and was mildly disappointed when the movie did exactly what I expected it to do, particularly in one particularly bonkers bit towards the end. YMMV, but I’m off to watch Gravity and Inception again after this, both of which do aspects of Interstellar much much better. Still, it is a Christopher Nolan movie so automatically in the top 10% of all movies this year, despite a run time of three hours and nine minutes, and it does handles emotions and the people side of things much better than previous Nolan movies have, while still being very smart.

After the jump, I’ll be running through: Arrow, The Blacklist, Elementary, Gotham, Gracepoint, Homeland, Muianey, Plebs, Selfie and Scorpion.

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November 3, 2014

What have you been watching? Including The Anomaly, Constantine, Chef and Doctor Who

Posted on November 3, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Sunday’s overload of TV, as well as a generally busy weekend, means that I’m very slightly behind on my viewing. That means that still in the viewing queue are the latest episodes of The Affair, Homeland, Mulaney and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. I’ve also got the first episode of The McCarthys to watch as well. As a result, I think “What have you been watching?” should shift to Friday again for the next few weeks, to deal with the latest schedule fun.

I did give The Knick (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic) a brief try. This is Steven Soderburgh’s little project, starring Clive Owen, which aired in the Summer while I was away on holiday. Set in a turn of the 20th century American hospital, it appears to exist mainly to allow Soderburgh to play around with a brilliant surgeon who’s a racist drug addict and for Owen to try out an American accent that doesn’t fit him very well. It didn’t inspire me to watch any more of it anyway.

Before I get on to the regulars, though, I’ll briefly mention a few films I watched this week.

Chef (2014)
Jon Favreau is a cook who ends up having a fight with a restaurant critic (Oliver Platt) and getting fired. He decides to go back to basics by driving around the US in a van, but thanks to the fight going viral - and his son tagging along for the ride helps out a lot there - he soon becomes incredibly popular. Largely, the movie exists as a metaphor for Favreau’s experiences of going from independent movie making to big franchise movies (eg Iron Man) and back to indie movies again, and he’s got a lot of acting pals along with him to help (eg Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr). But it feels very self-satisfied, not least to the effect the portly Favreau has on women, and ultimately very predictable.

How Do You Know (2010)
Reese Witherspoon is a baseball player who hooks up with fellow athlete and 'playa’ Owen Wilson. But should she really be with lawyer Paul Rudd, who’s a little bit too ready to commit. How will she know? Why should you care? You shouldn’t and won’t. A fabulous cast that also includes Jack Nicholson, and directed by TV comedy super-director James L Brooks, but the funny bits are all in the trailer.

The Anomaly (2014)
A strange futuristic little movie, in which Noel Clarke from Doctor Who is a soldier who keeps waking up to find himself in all kinds of strange situations, only for him to lose consciousness again after 10 minutes. Cue the next strange situation. Over time, he begins to piece together what’s going on - at least, when he’s not being punched a lot by Ian Somerhalder (Lost, The Vampire Diaries) - and it could change the world. Directed by Clarke and also featuring Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect, Ground Floor), it looks surprisingly good for a low budget indie movie and has some good ideas: in its own way, it's the Megaville of this decade. But it’s somewhat sabotaged by some well choreographed but poorly shot, impactless fight scenes, a decision that all the female characters should be topless/naked at some point or other, and by leaving Brian Cox to almost literally hang around with nothing to do. Blink and you’ll miss Freema Agyeman as Clarke’s wife.

That's it for new new shows, though, but after the jump, I’ll be running through: Arrow, The Blacklist, Constantine, Doctor Who, Elementary, Forever, Gotham, Gracepoint, Homeland, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Muianey, Plebs and Scorpion. Will I be dropping any this week?

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