Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Reviews and moviechat

Yesterday, the family had a go at the new movie board game. . My little sister insisted she wanted to be on my team, so I gave her a crash course in famous directors using Empire's top 20 list. Warner Herzog did not come up, much to our team's distress (I'd already briefed her that he chased his actors on set at gunpoint) The highlight of the exercise went something like this:

Me - "Okay, Orson Welles?"
Sis - "Rosebud!"
Me- "Very good...[turns page] okay, it's an old game so he won't be in there [turns page] Ah, Hitchcock. You know him, right?"
Sis - "Yes - he made the Terminator, didn't he?"


I am surrounded by idiots. Not like I'm The Master's greatest fan, but I'd expect people to know The Da Vinci Code was not written by Shakespeare. However I feel about the stories and dudes involved, I would expect them to know it. Needless to say we lost - but only by one card, and only via a technical annoyance whereby the other team could pinch a card of their choice from the enemy. Oh yeh, and we kinda deserved to lose because we, er, cheated...

It goes like this. There are Suspense cards, which the entire table can answer. Now this particular card had 6 pairs of actors on it and my sister had to pick one of the pairs for the entire table to guess a film they'd been in. The entire table= me, mum and dad. So she flashes me a discreet peepy at the card and I casually throw up two fingers. "Okay..." she starts, a tad apprehensively, "Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Schnei..." "Jaws!" I call back. We kept the turn and won another few cards. Henry Gondorff would have been proud. Not that I was particularly...

Anyway, onto the reviews:

Runaway Jury
In a vitally important gun case, THREE sides fight to control the verdict using less than honest means, for profit, prestege and personal something-beginning-with-p.

Now surely I've told you the Runaway Jury story before. It's the final proof why exciting trailers work so well. Believe me, I'm not normally swung by trailers, but this and Hero are the exceptions. My sister and I saw the trailers and were hooked! It was the first film I ever obsessed about before seeing it. And we both put it on every birthday and Christmas list from habit more than any desire to see it. Fascinating, non?

Runaway Jury is great fun. With a fast paced and pleasantly twisty plot, it really doesn't allow you to get bored. It's just complex enough to feel satisfied at understanding what's going on, while remaining actually pretty simple.

There are a couple of rules I want to share with you today, which I've probably shared before, but nevertheless you may need to be reminded of. NEVER get involved in a Gulf War. NEVER try to kill the Godfather. NEVER go into the army if you have a fiancee or baby on the way. But NEVER retire either. In fact, the less backstory the better - but not too little, because then you're in for a nasty surprise. And NEVER allow the camera to focus on a happy family for more than half a minute, because we all know exactly in what direction it's going...

I just need to add that while our couple do nothing special, they look awesome together.

Rachel Weitz (however you spell it) is, as always, very good. She's kinda underrated, I think. She was great in both The Mummy and Constantine, though perhaps those names are why she isn't more widely appreciated. Dustin Hoffman acts exactly as I expected him to, which I suppose is not a bad thing. The best character was undoubtedly the twitchy jury. Henry Fonda never had that lot to deal with, and even he'd have had a pretty tricky job convincing them of anything, what with their various murky problems. I just liked the way they all interact.

Our hero in the jury is Nick Easter, and he's basically great. Can't think of much more to say. Good looking chappie too. Somehow the style does not get repetitve (I was sure I'd be sick of the Gene Hackman Is Shouty scenes by the end, but no...)

However there is one flaw - a big one. The entire plot hinges not on the characters, but on the ending. So like so many mystery films, once you've seen it once you won't need to see it again. I call 'em sprint films. You get sprint books as well - they're usually found abandoned in airports and at second hand book sales.

Another flaw are the computers. Somehow, for all the technological advances, Hollywood has never discovered the humble mouse. No, all you need to do is tap a few keys and lots of cool popups appear on screen - all containing the relevant information, none containing adverts for dating agencies or spam claiming they've one $1,000,000. Similarly, they always have really snazzy computer programs which suit their every need. Now watch this film (or, indeed, most films) and try not to be cynical about the baddie's hardware (PS, can you really download an entire computer harddrive in under half a minute? And is it possible to download them to an mp3 player?)

Final comments - though the initial twist that... Nick really wanted in on the jury was great, his scene in the candle shop was unecessary. Why were they acting like they didn't know each other? Purely to lead the audience off, no other in-plot reason. And if they were worried they'd be seen together, why go to her apartment later and why does she reveal her identity at all? ...Not that it really matters, I'm being picky.

New York Minute

The plot? Why, of course there's a plot! Whatever made you think otherwise? Snooty-sister and Scatty-sister attempt to get to a competition and concert respectively, while dodging hitmen with unfunny accents, rescuing poodles, dodging truancy officers bumping into cute lads and running around in towels while learning about friendship and tolerance.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. Off the record, on the QT and very very hush hush etc...I LOVE Mary Kate and Ashley. Don't tell any of my posh film friends, and if you are any of my posh film friends forgive me I have sinned, I've a copy of Metropolis on hand to cleanse my mind. So when the parents bought New York Minute for my sister, she was less than happy, I was overjoyed. So let's think about this for a moment - as a film, it has nothing original or too different from any MK+A movie. But if we sweep away those layers of predjudice to begin with and allow it's going to be pretty dire, then it's great!

I grinned from start to finish, excluding any scene which appealed to our emotions because they were all painfully scripted. There's a montage 3/4 of the way through which made me want to attack my own eyes. And the House of Bling hurt a bit as well. The romances were unforgivably one-dimentional, and not helped by my (younger?!) watching companion who implied twincest at every available oppertunity (twincest = exactly what it sounds like)

The style (dear God, I'm talking about cinematography...) was similar to in their mini-film things - fast cutting and abusing every trick in the editing suite. Still, it kept it visually interesting.

As always the plot was unbelievable. They manage to get on stage at the Simple Plan concert and pull off a stage dive? Mary/Kate/Ashley manages to run about New York for what seems like an eternity wearing only a towel which doesn't fall down? (Seriously, we've all tried the towel-wrap thing - it doesn't work) Oh, and they mayaswell been handed a box labelled "deus ex machina" at the end. There's also a lot of coincidence, but I don't really object to that.

It was funny at times. At the beginning they bump into a chap on a train and terrorise him. I laughed every time he showed up. And while usually I don't like Matrix spoofs, the sunglasses chap+slowmo birdies+train station fight did raise a smile. And the neurotic-one's obsessing over her day planner made me grin too - I know people like that...

So OK, it wasn't all that classy, but at the end of the day, it wasn't boring either. Even though we all know where it's going, the journey there is fast paced, moronic, but fun. Now compare it to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the only film I've truly despised this year - the ending was obvious from looking at the box, but the journey was tedious as hell. So New York Minute retains 3 star status, for at least being a bit of a laugh.

All in all, girls of a Certain Age will love it, as will anybody else who loves MK+A or wants to kill themselves laughing from mockery.

PS, a massive helicopter just passed over the house - with two rotating-propellor-things. Reminds me, as always, of Black Hawk Down.

PPS, They're trying to remake the Sting. And unlike the previous Butch Cassidy and the Unecessary Remake rumour, this one's come from a reliable source. Kill me now.

PPPS, you may have gathered by now I have a lot of friends. And one of them made a new friend on a course last year, and now he's visiting our town for the week. And the only reason I'm mentioning this is that out of the blue he said he thought Q.Tarantino should direct a film of the Bible. He said it might increase interest in religion. Now isn't that an, er...interesting thought. It's making me think of other director's "Bibles". Tim Burton, for example. Jesus - the quirky, outcast loner - Nazareth all done in pastel colours, plus score by Danny Elfman. In fact I want to see this one - it'll really capture the magic and enchantment of the miracles. David Lean's an obvious candidate - big screen, deserts. In fact, hasn't he already done one? It's such a good idea that perhaps I'm just remembering it. Terry Gilliam is ideal for filming Revelations, because they're approximately as wacky as each other. Peter Jackson can handle the Old Testament, what with his new penchant for 12hour epics AND his old penchant for plenty of gore.


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