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The 10 most anticipated films of 2014

January 18, 2014   -   0 comments   -  

I’m as aware as you are that every year I put some real shite on my Most Anticipated list, but what can I say, hindsight is 20/20, and if all I’ve got to go on is a cool premise and a well-crafted trailer, then that rubbish with Will Smith and his kid is going to get listed.

I’m sure that this year’s list is no different. Getting down to 10 was tough, and just so you know, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is deliberately left off because despite my excitement, I simply can’t trust it’s going to make it to cinemas in 2014. I’ve been burnt too many times, dammit.

Anyway, here are the 10 films I’m most looking forward to in 2014:

Interstellar

Interstellar movie poster

After the Dark Knight trilogy, there are some excited people out there, eager to see what Christopher Nolan produces next. Interstellar follows a team of scientists who discover a wormhole to alternate dimensions, and stars Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway. Expect amazing effects and philosophical pondering.

Under The Skin

Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s (Sexy Beast, Birth) new film has divided those who have managed to catch it already, but I think it sounds fascinating.

The almost wordless sci-fi thriller stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien who stalks Scotland, preying on men, and much of the film was shot undercover in Glasgow and the Highlands. Semi-disguised with a matted black wig, Johansson went into nightclubs and shopping centres followed by hidden cameras, and the reactions of the people around her are totally genuine. A spooky curio, that should hit cinemas around Easter.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Michael Fassbender in X-Men Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer hasn’t been involved in an X-Men film since the superb X2 back in 2003, so it will be interesting to see what the director can bring to the table a decade on.

Starring cast members from across the franchise (although Anna Paquin’s Rogue has just been edited out), Days of Future Past sees the mutants travelling back in time to change a major historical event that could harm everyone on the planet. X-Men: First Class was better than expected, so hopes are high for this follow-up.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Hunger Games Mockinjay poster

Oh, The Hunger Games. Nobody was more surprised than me when Catching Fire made it onto my 2013 best-of list, and now I can’t wait for the third film. As is popular right now, the last book of the trilogy has been split into two (so this is part 1 of 2), but I’m confident there’s enough to ensure both films are great.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is the latest directorial effort from George Clooney (who also co-wrote the script) and follows a small platoon of soldiers during the Second World War, tasked with recovering artistic masterpieces. Films like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind have proved that Clooney can be a smart, nuanced director, and with a cast including Matt Damon and Bill Murray, The Monuments Men has a lot to offer.

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending movie

A huge, sprawling sci-fi opera, written and directed by the Wachowskis; not a huge amount is known about this film yet, expect that it’s likely to be the first part of a trilogy and stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum in a story about a poor cleaner who possesses the same ‘perfect’ genetic makeup as the Queen of the Universe and is therefore deemed a threat to her rule.

Jupiter Ascending will either be amazing or a huge pile of impenetrable tosh. I’m banking on the former.

The Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise in The Edge of Tomorrow

One day Tom Cruise will stop disappointing me. Yeah, Jack Reacher was pretty good, but it wasn’t the kind of mega-huge hit I expect from The Cruiser. Perhaps this film will make things right? In The Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise is a futuristic, robotic exo-skeleton-clad soldier, caught in a time loop which forces him to fight and die in the same battle over and over again. Emily Blunt co-stars in this adaptation of the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel

A new Wes Anderson film is always cause for celebration, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is his latest finely-manicured feature. Ralph Fiennes stars as the concierge of the hotel in the title, who takes a younger employee under his wing. Jude Law, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton star alongside Anderson regulars like Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson. Expect black comedy, beautiful cinematography and an eclectic soundtrack.

Dumb and Dumber To

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber To

Directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring original leads Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, the teenager in the back of my head who watched the first Dumb and Dumber on a dodgy VHS is really excited about the sequel. The plot is nothing special (20 years after the dimwits set out on their first adventure, they head out in search of one of their long lost children in the hope of gaining a new kidney) but done right, a comedy sequel can be a beautiful thing; Anchorman 2 proved that.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man and Electro

The final spot on this list almost went to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but my inner comic-book geek won out. Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are returning for the sequel to the rebooted Spider-Man franchise, with loads of baddies involved in this one, including the wonderful, brilliant, glorious Paul Giamatti as Rhino. Spidey will be in cinemas in May.

Top 10 films of 2013

December 28, 2013   -   1 comment   -  

Alright, here we go, my top 10 films of the year. It’s time for the annual onslaught of tweets and emails telling me that I’m too stupid to live.

As usual, my top 10 list is entirely subjective and in no particular order, and if I was doing a top 50, your favourite would probably be in there. But there are only 10 spots, so like Nick Clegg deciding on whether to force a smile by pinching his leg or biting the inside of his cheek, tough decisions had to be made.

Right then…

Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Sometimes one scene is all it takes to elevate a film from being an also-ran to a sure-fire member of my coveted Top 10. And so it goes with Captain Phillips. Paul Greengrass’ true-life tale of ship captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) as his vessel is boarded by pirates moves along slowly, but is always tense, and Hanks’ final scene is some of the best acting of the year, if not ever. I can’t not mention Barkhad Abdi as Musa, one of the pirates, whose lack of acting experience only makes him more impressive.

A farewell to Blockbuster

December 16, 2013   -   2 comments   -  

I wrote this for a newspaper last year, when my local Blockbuster – which I had worked at for few years – was closing down.

With today marking the closure of the last remaining UK stores, I thought I’d share it…

A Blockbuster store in the UK

One of the many stricken Blockbuster stores           Picture: Elliot Brown

The Rob mentioned in the story went on to manage another Blockbuster store. Yesterday he turned the lights off there for the last time.

———-

This weekend, the book closed on what had been quite a large part of my life.

After 22 years, Blockbuster in Canterbury has closed its doors, ready to be smashed into pieces in preparation for a new hotel with too few parking spaces.

For many, I expect it was just another video shop, but the big blue store by the crossroads always meant more to me.

Getting your kids into the theatre

December 13, 2013   -   2 comments   -  

In this year’s Christmas special edition of The Spectator, there is an article by me about the best way to get your kids interested in the theatre.

Don’t worry, it’s not as dry and worthy as it sounds. Plus, it opens up with me getting hit in the face, so there’s that.

The issue of The Spectator it’s in looks like this:

The Spectator magazine front cover Christmas 2013

And like most things it’s available to read online too.

The Bechdel test fallacy

November 22, 2013   -   1 comment   -  
Jennifer Lawremce in Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire passes the Bechdel Test. Good news. You’re allowed to watch it.

 

Ever heard of the Bechdel test?

Don’t worry if you haven’t, chances are you’re going to hear about it a lot in coming years.

For those of you that haven’t stumbled across it before, the Bechdel test came about due to a comic strip by cartoonist Alison Bechdel (hence the name), and it lays down three simple rules that decree whether a film is gender-biased or not.

1. Are there two or more female characters with names?

2. Do they have a conversation with each other?

3. Do they talk about anything other than men?

Sounds straightforward enough, but it’s surprising how many of your favourite films will not pass the test. The original Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings films, and all but one of the Harry Potter films fail. Of course, they aren’t exactly festering with misogyny, but they do not pass the test.

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