Friday, 24 October 2014

From Doogie Howser to Hosting the Oscars

Did anyone else used to watch Doogie Howser MD?

Hasn't Neil Patrick Harris come a long way?


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Epic Hobbit Inspired Air New Zealand Safety Video

What on Middle Earth is this now? Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Sylvester McCoy all pop up in this slightly baffling safety video from Air New Zealand. Telling you the best way to stay safe on one of their planes while selling the crap out of The Hobbit and New Zealand as the ultimate Middle Earth adventure, it sure is pretty epic.

It's also completely unnecessary and still just a safety video. Nothing is personally ever going to stop me thinking about all the disasters that could befall us passengers as they tell me to count the number of rows between me and the exit. Sorry Tolkien fans but all I want from a safety video is to know how and where I can get off the plane in an emergency if I'm lucky enough to survive a crash!

Anyway check out the video for yourself and just be thankful that you're not currently having to brace yourself for any impending disaster:



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Radio 1 Rescores Drive, Curated By Zane Lowe... Are they nuts?

Radio 1, led by super-cool Zane Lowe, have decided to rescore the movie Drive with an all new soundtrack. The film will be screened on BBC3 on Thursday 30th October. 

New music will be included from the likes of Banks, Baauer, Jon Hopkins, SBTRKT, The 1975, Bastille, Bring Me The Horizon, CHVRCHES, Eric Prydz, Foals, Laura Mvula, The Neighbourhood and more. I've got to say I haven't heard much of any of these but they will have to be pretty damn good to beat the likes of Cliff Martinez, College and Kavinsky.


I love the idea, the ambition and the boldness of going for a film so loved for its film score but I can't help but suspect that this can't be totally successful. It's got the blessing of director Nicholas Winding Refn but surely he knows they can't beat the original music? If Zane Lowe and Radio 1 had decided to tackle something with a less distinctive and iconic score, that would be more understandable.

I guess the point is that this is an experiment and therefore, whether it's better or worse is irrelevant. I for one am looking forward to seeing the new version. If it sucks, we've always got the original to go back and watch. And if it's awesome, I can't wait to see what they dare to tackle next! Here's the trailer for the re-scored version:



What do you think? Reckon this can work?

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Why I Love Jake Gyllenhaal: Top 5 Films

Ahead of the double whammy of Nightcrawler and Enemy, I thought I'd have a quick peek back at the fine work of Jake Gyllenhaal in his previous films. From the sound of things, Nightcrawler might just be his best yet but it will take something impressive to top this lot. He's worked with the likes of David Fincher and Ang Lee, shaved his head and gone boldly gay for a town still terrified of homosexuality. Here's my favourite performances of his 23 year career so far:

5. Zodiac

From political cartoonist to obsessed detective and author, Jake Gyllenhaal's character in David Fincher's strange serial killer flick loses everything, including his wife and kid. His determination is painstakingly captured by Fincher who commanded up to 90 takes to get the performance he wanted from the stressed out star.

4. Prisoners

This time playing a real detective and up against a seriously unhinged Hugh Jackman, Gyllenhaal still more than holds his own in Prisoners. Some might consider his constant blinking a bit of an obvious trait, but it adds a brilliantly nervous tension to a character who is caught up in a hideously tense case.

3. Donnie Darko

Gyllenhaal finally got a decent break as disturbed teen Donnie Darko after the abominable likes of Bubble Boy. Moody, dark and funny, Donnie became an instant icon of teen angst.

2. Brokeback Mountain


In a way, the late Heath Ledger had the easier role here. He was a repressed ball of rage, ready to lock down his homosexuality into a dark hole within himself. Gyllenhaal had to be the believable gay cowboy; the guy that was open to his feelings and willing to take a chance with another man.

1. End of Watch

David Ayer's film is a blistering found footage cop thriller set on the mean streets of LA. Gyllenhaal is our guide; a cocksure cop hitting on Anna Kendrick while catching the bad guys on camera. His banter with Michael Pena is awesome, his swagger and bravado only brought down by the gut wrenching finale.

What are your favourite Jake Gyllenhaal performances?

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PS Here is the trailer for Nightcrawler which looks like a whole bag of awesome:


My Top 10 of the London Film Festival 2014

Quick disclaimer: some of these I saw at Cannes earlier this year but they were still playing at the LFF so I have included them here even if I didn't get a chance to see them again. I should also mention that I didn't get to see loads of films at the LFF such as The Imitation Game, It Follows, Whiplash or Men, Women and Children to name a few. Sounds like Whiplash may be many people's favourite of the festival but I'm afraid I will have to wait to see it like everybody else!

Anyway, here is my top 10. Click the titles for my reviews:


10. A Hard Day



9. Son of a Gun



8. Timbuktu



7. '71



6. Fury



5. Foxcatcher



4. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night



3. Monsters: Dark Continent



2. Wild Tales



1. White God



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Monday, 20 October 2014

London Film Festival Day 6: White God Interview and Serena Screening with Jennifer Lawrence




On Monday, I got out of work, realised I’d lost my memory stick and that I would have to rewrite all my questions for White God director Kornel Mundruczo and writer Kata Weber again. The interview was at the Mayfair Hotel which was disgustingly posh and I got half an hour to sit down face to face with the talent. This was huge for me as 1. I’d never done a face to face interview and 2. I absolutely love this film.

I tried my best not to gush at them both and had way too many questions to get through in the allotted time but it went well. I figured I should take 30 questions just in case they give really short answers! The interview will be up at Starburst Magazine when White God gets its UK release. I urge you to go see it! Here is my review for Starburst Magazine.

Then I hung around for a screening of Serena. If all the tickets don’t get sold out for the public screenings in the evenings, then they dish them out to press if they want them. While I was sitting around waiting for the screening to start, there was a lot of security around and a whole big area of the cinema had been cordoned off for a ‘private party’. Somebody on Twitter had already told me that there was a rumour that star of Serena Jennifer Lawrence would be in attendance and lo and behold as the lights went down for the film, Lawrence and director Susanne Bier showed up to briefly introduce the film. 


Lawrence had to jet off back to LA but Bier and Toby Jones hung around afterwards for a QnA session after the film. 

Here is the trailer for Serena and my review:




Starburst Magazine: Hunger Games Mockingjay Preview and Reviews

In the latest issue of Starburst Magazine, I have written a preview of Mockingjay Part 1 detailing everything we know about the upcoming blockbuster. I also have a review of The Equalizer and Kidnapped in there if you fancy picking up a copy from here or WHSmiths or HMV or many other places. Or you can subscribe here and never miss an issue!


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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Game Of Thrones: 10 Characters That Must Not Bite The Dust in Season 5

Game of Thrones fans will be well aware that author George R.R. Martin has absolutely no qualms about killing off everyone’s favourite characters. Just as you're getting attached to someone; down comes a heavy handed sword, or out pops a random character to deliver an unexpected knife to the guts. After watching a few episodes of the first season, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that Game of Thrones was going to be the story of the heroic protagonist Ned Stark. Wrong – we should have known that Sean Bean, who played Ned, is notorious for dying in everything he appears in, regardless of how optimistic the audience might be about his chances.

Fans then witnessed the infamous events of the Red Wedding in season 3, and most recently had to suffer through the eye gouging fatality of another much beloved character in season 4. Now it’s time to start signing petitions, and doing whatever is necessary to stop George R.R. Martin and HBO from stabbing, slicing, hanging or decapitating any of these top 10 characters… before it’s too late! Game of Thrones fans may be suckers for punishment but, please, just leave these characters alone for a little while longer.

There will be no book spoilers here, but there is mention of many events that have occurred in season 4.This is just a simple but heartfelt plea that none of these characters, who are still currently alive in the TV show, are destined for destruction anytime soon.

10. Grey Worm

Formerly just another unnamed member of the Unsullied, Grey Worm is now a free man and leader of Daenerys' army. The Unsullied have lived terrible lives as slaves; they have been castrated, trained to kill without mercy and obey their masters unquestioningly. They are disciplined beyond any normal army and have been conditioned to see themselves as equal members in a terrifying mass of soldiers.

However, after Mother of Dragons Daenerys granted their freedom, Grey Worm rose up to become their leader. He, like his Unsullied brothers, is completely dedicated to the woman who freed him and prepared to die for her. Far more interestingly though, Grey Worm is also showing signs of getting a few sensations in the downstairs department. After catching a good eyeful of Daenerys' translator Missandei while she was bathing, it looks like there could potentially be a doomed love story about to catch fire. However, it will need time to simmer before Grey Worm (or Missandei) can be killed off.
Besides, it would be a great shame for Grey Worm to leave this mortal coil before we get to see him lead his army of Unsullied into a real battle alongside Daenerys' dragons. Bring on the war!


9. Jorah Mormont

Recently outed as a former traitor, Mormont was last seen being banished from Daenerys' side. He is now heading off on paths unknown and his destiny is uncertain. However, we all know how much he loves his Queen really, and how truly and deeply sorry he is for his former treachery. So, can we just give him another chance already? The fact Daenerys couldn't execute him for his past transgressions suggests she still has a soft spot for her closest adviser and confidante. Though there might be a pretty sizeable age gap between the pair, seeing them back together would be a romantic reunion to cherish.

Mormont has been there for his Khaleesi since the very first episodes. Their separation four seasons into the show comes as something of a blow to fans, especially those looking for a love story in amongst all the war, rape, murder and incest. Instead of killing off Mormont, wouldn't it be great to see him return to aid Daenarys when she most needs him? Perhaps he could ride in like a knight in shining armour and show her that he never stopped loving her. Or is that far too cheesy for Game of Thrones fans?

8. Stannis Baratheon

Stannis is always lurking in the background of the show, but he is about to become a far more prominent character as the story continues. Since losing his two brothers, Stannis has been the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. However, this claim has been consistently thwarted by the scheming Lannisters, most botably Tyrion and Tywin during the Battle Of Blackwater. Stannis must be burning with rage, so it's no surprise that he's hooked up with the Lord of Light, and R’hllor’s emissary Melisandre.

Stannis may have been responsible for the death of his seemingly far nicer brother Renly but in all fairness, Stannis is the older of the brothers and did have the most right to rule Westeros after Robert died. However, Stannis is not the most pleasant and charming character, and his dealings with the terrifying Lady Melisandre and her fiery sacrificial offerings are definitely dubious. On the other hand, Stannis could also be the best man for the job of uniting the Lannister’s enemies and seeing them run out of King's Landing. He was also pretty epic at the Blackwater and it would be good to see him donning armour and kicking ass once again.


7. Cersei Lannister


It can't all be good guys on this list and Cersei is neither good, nor a guy. However, she is one of the most watchable and fascinating characters left on the show. After the death of her son Joffrey at the Purple Wedding (and more recently her father Tywin), Cersei is now the really evil centre of King's Landing. With her constant scheming and her fierce protectiveness as a mother, Cersei is a force of nature to be reckoned with.

Cersei may be incestuous, insidious and morally repugnant but she is also played with relish by Lena Headey and a joy to watch. There was a worry that once Jaime, her lover and brother, returned to King's Landing that Cersei would soften and become boring in double-quick time. Hell no! Not this Lannister vixen. Finding Jaime a bit too armless, she is now the queen of put downs and comebacks, and the best villain Game of Thrones currently has to offer. Cersei is the meanest Lannister left in King's Landing and everybody knows it; a character we all love to loathe.


6. Syrio Forel

Bit of a cheat here perhaps. Syrio, Arya's sword/dance instructor from the first season, may already be dead as far as fans know. Last seen defending Arya at King’s Landing, if anyone could fight his way out of a corner when highly outnumbered, it would be Syrio. The man who taught Arya everything she knows about using that trusty Needle of hers, Syrio was a brilliant teacher and fighter. It would be a great shame if he did die at the hands of the Lannister men who came to take Arya away. His teachings still inspire Arya and she continues to benefit everyday.

More to the point, as much as it has been fun watching Arya wander around the countryside with The Hound episode after episode, it would be much more fun to see Arya hook up with Syrio. She could take some more sword fighting lessons and learn to take bloody vengeance on all those who have wronged her and her rapidly diminishing family. Please let Syrio still be alive and hiding out somewhere safe, just waiting to be brought back into action. After all, in the words of Syrio: ‘There is only one thing we say to death: not today!’


5. Petyr Baelish

As much as everyone hates this big pimping and manipulative scumbag, played with sly glee by Aidan Gillen, Littlefinger is emerging as one of the most volatile characters in the entire game of thrones. Nothing would surprise me less than Baelish winning the Iron Throne after everyone around him has killed each other off and he becomes the last man standing. He’ll be the one hiding in the shadows and orchestrating the entire massacre.

Let's not forget that this is also the man who engineered the murder of that little terror King Joffrey. He is now sheltering poor, innocent Sansa Stark while most of the rest of her family have been brutally dispatched. What is most exciting about Littlefinger though, is that he is so completely unreadable. He is capable of doing anything to save his own skin. He is deceitful, dangerous and one of the key players to watch out for going forward.


4. Brienne Of Tarth

Brittle, brave and ugly Brienne put up with endless taunts and quips from Jaime Lannister during their time together. However, she is the woman who slowly brought out the humanity in Jaime, a man who started the show by screwing his own sister and pushing a kid from a castle window. She may not be much to look at, and her loyalty may make her a little one-dimensional, but Brienne is the kind of character you cannot help but root for.

Whereas so many of the female characters in Game of Thrones are victims or evil villains (hello, Cersei), Brienne is loyal, noble and nobody's victim. Now she has a mission to find Sansa, but she seems to have been worryingly sidelined from the central action. Sansa does not seem to need rescuing so Brienne's journey with Pod doesn't have much urgency, which is bad news for all those who want to see Brienne back in the middle of the action. She is going to be a fascinating character in the future due to her divided loyalties, feeling bound to both the Starks and Jaime Lannister. Who will she choose to side with when the game of thrones turns into all out war? Will she survive long enough for us to find out?


3. Jon Snow

The bastard son of Winterfell and Ned Stark's flesh and blood. Jon Snow is the man who volunteered to take the black and become a man of the Night's Watch instead of sitting at cosy Winterfell. Now that Robb is dead and Bran is broken, Jon Snow is the real son of Stark to watch out for. He may be caught up in protecting the wall from wildlings but he is also the only brother of the Night's Watch to have lived with the free folk for any time. He is a man who belongs nowhere, but he is also a natural leader; brave and loyal to his friends and destined for greatness.

Jon Snow has recently lost his fiery red-haired wildling girlfriend Ygritte, but she has left him with a taste for the dark side of the wall and the fruits that the real North has to offer. More to the point, Jon still has Ghost, his snow white direwolf. Wouldn't it be great to see Ghost taking on white walkers on one side and Daenerys and her dragons on the other when it all comes to an eventual showdown? Yeah, thought so.


2. Arya Stark

It would have been easy to simply fill this list with the remaining Stark children. After all, who wants to see House Stark suffer any more after the deaths of Ned, Catelyn and Robb? However, Sansa is only just becoming interesting, Bran is nominally safe in the cave of the three-eyed raven, and Rickon seems to have utterly disappeared. Arya, on the other hand, has been an absolute gem since we first met her. A tomboy who cares more for fighting than pretty dresses, she knew Joffrey for what he was from the second she met him. She has also survived on her own against all the odds, since escaping King's Landing.

She is also one of the most dangerous and damaged individuals in the show. And no wonder – she witnessed her father's beheading and just keeps turning up too late to be reunited with her family members, as they all bite the dust one after the other. Poor Arya. All the while she is getting older, tougher and wiser and keeping that list of those she wants to take revenge on in her head. Please don't let Arya die before she can tick some more names off that hit list.


1. Tyrion Lannister

No surprise here, as everyone's favourite Lannister and Game of Thrones character was always destined for the top of this list. Tyrion is the most interesting, witty and wonderful character caught up in this whole messy game of thrones. He is also currently the character most at risk of losing his head. With a fantastic performance from Peter Dinklage and brilliant writing from author Martin and the HBO show's team, Tyrion has kept the wit and warmth from the books that makes him so special. He was a coward who showed his true bravery at the battle of Blackwater. He is the son of a father who never wanted him, and who everyone blames for the death of his mother. He is an underdog who is used to being kicked but is still smarter than all those around him.

Tyrion Lannister must not die. Not yet. Kill anyone else but not this little man with the big mouth. Now he has been saved from execution by his brother, he is going to be the most wanted man in all of Westeros (and beyond). Can Tyrion survive season five? You wouldn’t bet against him, but this is Game Of Thrones we’re talking about.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

London Film Festival Day 5: Kung Fu Jungle, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night



With a mighty hangover after my birthday celebrations, I got up to London for my second day of films. First up was Teddy Chen’s Kung Fu Jungle starring martial arts supremo Donnie Yen and a wealth of cameos from Hong Kong action cinema’s finest. 

Here’s the trailer and my review at Starburst Magazine:


Next up, was one of the biggest and best surprises of the festival so far: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from Iran but co-produced by Frodo himself Mr Elijah Wood. I hadn’t been expecting much from this devoutly arty black and white vampire movie but it was gorgeous and surprisingly cool.

Here’s the trailer and my review at Starburst Magazine:


That trailer doesn't reveal much but trust me, this film is well worth a watch!

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Serena Review from London Film Festival

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper sure must love working together. After Silver Linings and American Hustle, they are back for another helping of each other in Susanne Bier's depressing Depression-era drama Serena.

It's 1929 in the Smoky Mountains and Cooper plays George Pemberton, a man with a thriving timbre empire who falls in love with the beautiful Serena played by Jennifer Lawrence. The pair are married almost as soon as they meet and while George has to try and stop the local sheriff from turning the forestry rich land into a national park, his wife is easily settling in to the remote lifestyle. George isn't below stooping to bribery (and worse) in order to ensure he can keep cutting down the trees but his past is about to come back to haunt him with a bastard offspring and Serena's own inability to have children complicating matters.


Susanne Bier made the stunning film In a Better World which was Oscar nominated, subtle and unforgettable. Since then she has slipped into Hollywood slop with Love is All You Need and Serena continues her sudden slide into disappointment. When it starts, it looks as though JLaw might be returning to her Winter's Bone roots. The landscapes are lovingly filmed and the production design takes you back to the era convincingly.

But the problems with Serena are mostly with the script, characters and editing. It feels butchered, like someone has taken an axe to it and hacked it to pieces. Cooper and Lawrence meet, have sex a few times in a swift montage and are married. We are told Serena's back story briefly by one character and then she fills in a few more details herself later. It's all tell and no show and neither Cooper or Lawrence manage to create completely convincing characters. Despite Serena's tragic past, it is incredibly difficulty to muster even a shred of sympathy for either character.


The Pembertons are bastards, pure and simple. Selfish, conniving and greedy; you want them to fail. The supporting characters have the potential to be more interesting but are never given any time to develop. What is more, Serena reeks of misogyny. Lawrence may start off as an equal partner to her husband but she is soon deemed worthless by him if she cannot bear children. Perhaps that says more about George than it does about the (anti)heroine but Serena comes across as a spiteful Lady Macbeth style creature with few redeeming features.

Serena looks great but its choppy narrative has purely unlikeable characters that never fully convince despite solid performances from Lawrence and Cooper. Rhys Ifans and Toby Jones offer decent support but maybe its time Cooper and Lawrence had a break from each other.

On the plus side, Jennifer Lawrence turned up at the screening so it was cool to see her in the flesh, because you know... she's KATNISS!!! She even (jokingly?) asked us not to tweet about the film if we didn't like it. Sorry Jennifer, but at least we'll always have The Hunger Games!


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