Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best Books I Read in 2014: Game of Thrones, 50 Shades of Grey

After tucking in to the first two parts of the 50 Shades trilogy in 2013 in order to be able to write about the upcoming adaptation for Yahoo Movies, I started 2014 with the depressing task of completing the trilogy by reading 50 Shades Freed. I have to say I'm glad it finally ended, though I did enjoy bits and pieces of the books. I just wish it had all been a hell of a lot shorter and more concise. Was all that sex really necessary?

Anyway, I then got back to the business of tackling the remaining books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I slogged through A Storm of Swords, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons, finally getting up to date so I can now wait impatiently with all the other fans for the impending Winds of Winter. A Storm of Swords was terrific, as was A Dance With Dragons with A Feast For Crows being a bit more meandering but still a damn immersive read. I can't on without mentioning one massive SPOILER from the end of the fifth book so HERE IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING!!!!!


I cannot believe George R.R. Martin has killed off Jon Snow. I was so gutted. Just as things seemed to be getting really intense with him too. Now it's literally just Arya of the Starks that I'm really rooting for. Soooooooo gutted. RIP Bastard.






So all those huge books took me most of the year to read. I've still got a massive pile of books on my bedside table that I need to read but Game of Thrones became a priority for this year but in 2015, I'm going to start getting back to my pile that includes 12 Years a Slave, Shock Value and now Russell Brand's Revolution. 

I also read and reviewed a couple of books for Starburst Magazine:


Anyone else read anything good that they would like to recommend?

More 2014 Lists from I Love That Film:

Top 10 Best True Stories of 2014

TV in 2014

Top 10 Blockbusters of 2014

Top 10 Music Performances of 2014


TV in 2014: Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, True Detective, Fargo and Sherlock

2013 was the year that I decided to jump on the TV bandwagon and stop being a film snob who dismissed most of the stuff that hit the small screen. Smashing through Breaking Bad, Dexter, Homeland, The Walking Dead and more in 2013, I delved into 2014 with a renewed appetite for the best the gogglebox has to offer.

That meant mainly focusing on catching up with Game of Thrones for a start which I also started reading the books of in 2013. So I started this year by hitting HBO's fantasy series hard in order to be caught up by the time season 4 aired. I ploughed through seasons 2, 3 and 4 during 2014 and am now eagerly awaiting the beginning of season 5 with everybody else. I've also finished A Storm of Swords bringing me right up to date with the books so there are quite a few moments I'm gagging for and quite a few more I'm dreading. A few other writers and myself also did these cool profiles for Filmoria of all the different areas in the world of GoT:

‘Game of Thrones’ Profiles: Across the Narrow Sea

‘Game of Thrones’ Profiles: The North and Beyond

‘Game of Thrones’ Profiles: King’s Landing

I also watched True Detective this year starring Matthew Wonderboy McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. I had very mixed feelings about this show as while I really liked McConaughey's character, I also thought both the stars overacted their chops off. I also felt that despite it's incredibly brooding atmosphere, the story never went as dark or as deep as I had hoped it was going to go. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty dark but I'd hoped for a more crazy cult and carnage type ending, even if the last episode was awesome. Here's a catch up review I wrote near the end of the first season.

I finished The Walking Dead season 4 this year and started season 5. Season 4 was incredible and season 5 has been pretty decent  so far. I think I probably stand in the minority here but I think this show just keeps getting better and better after a seriously shoddy start with the first two seasons. Even without The Governor and the prison, things have been increasingly tense as the characters got split up out in the open and then had to fight their way out of Terminus in season 5.

The Walking Dead review: Reaching Terminus 

The Walking Dead: how will season 4 end? 

Will Carol make it to the end of The Walking Dead season 4? 

The Walking Dead review: A death in the family

Fargo was the show that really blew me away this year. I loved every minute of it. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton absolutely nailed their brilliantly written and incredibly fun to watch sociopaths. I hope they don't screw this one up by messing up a second season, though it sounds as though creator Noah Hawley is heading in an interesting direction.

Fargo review: Malvo and Lester finally face off 

Will Fargo return without Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton? 

Fargo review: Malvo goes after the new and improved Lester 

Fargo review: Did Lester and Malvo get away with murder? 

I also finally started watching the BBC's Sherlock so that means more Martin Freeman for me. I enjoyed the first season even if I have a bit of a love/hate thing going on with Cumberbatch. I'm more excited to see more of Andrew Scott's Moriarty who seemed hilarious in his brief appearance in season 1.

What else should I get stuck into in 2015 anybody?

More 2014 lists at I Love That Film:

Best Books I Read in 2014

Top 10 Blockbusters of 2014

Top 10 Music Performances of 2014

Top 10 Best True Stories of 2014

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Top 10 Blockbusters of 2014

How do we define a blockbuster? Is it just the size of the budget or is it about how much the film makes at the box office? If it's about budget, then how many dollars poured in to the production makes it a blockbuster? Is anything over $100 million in this day and age a blockbuster? I have no idea.

Does a blockbuster have to be simplistic? Good vs evil, bombastic special effects, product placement and completely sold on special effects... that kind of thing. Or can a blockbuster be intelligent? Personally, I think blockbusters can be dumb as fuck or smart as science and stuff. I don't mind them being dim witted, as long as they dazzle me with something I haven't seen before or make me care about their simplistic characters! But neither do I mind if they make my mind do some mental somersaults.

Anyway, enough with the questions and half-hearted answers. I'm counting any film with a budget of over $100 million as a blockbuster for this list. As far as I can tell, I saw 17 films released this year with that kind of meg-budget behind them. With a top 10 list like this, there always has to be losers, so the ones that missed out on a place in the final 10 were: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hercules, Pompeii, RoboCop, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and (whisper it) Guardians of the Galaxy (sorry everybody in the world ever!)

So without further ado, here are my top 10 blockbusters of 2014:

10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Epic end to what shouldn't have actually been a very epic story. The best compliment I can pay this film (and Peter Jackson) is that ever since I saw it, I have been desperate to have an LOTR binge session.

9. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Wish I'd seen this in a cinema on the biggest screen possible. 

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Again, wish I'd seen this on a sensible sized screen, rather than on a crappy little screen on a plane to Cuba.

7. Edge of Tomorrow

Just for the joy of seeing Tom Cruise playing a coward and getting killed over and over again. 

6. Godzilla

Got to go to the premiere of this for Filmoria and chat to Bryan Cranston on the red carpet. Shame he didn't have a bigger role in the actual film though.

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Not a huge superhero movie fan but this was an epic cast and had the added bonus of time travel. That Quicksilver scene was jaw dropping. 

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Apes of Wrath return in a sequel that was at least as good as its predecessor. I just love the way these films are so tragic. We all know where it is all leading but it has been a hell of a ride getting there so far.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street

Not sure if this is really a blockbuster but it has the budget to back it up and a huge cast going balls out. Jordan Belfort is a disgusting man who I really hope gets nothing from this movie but what a movie it was. Also contains the funniest scene of the entire year.

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 

Aided immeasurably by Lawrence’s powerful performance, Katniss is still the current queen of science fiction cinema and if Mockingjay is anything to go by, this franchise is building to an explosive and no doubt incredibly emotional conclusion.

1. Interstellar 

Emotion + Intelligence + Spectacle = A near perfect blockbuster

What were your favourite blockbusters of 2014? 

More 2014 lists at I Love That Film:

Best Books I Read in 2014

TV in 2014

Top 10 Music Performances of 2014

Top 10 Best True Stories of 2014

Monday, 22 December 2014

Top 10 Music Performances of 2014

Well this is new for me! Every year I see so many awesome bands and so many memorable sets that this year I have decided that I should make a note of them right here on this very film blog. Yes I know it's a film blog but that doesn't mean that I can't step out of my comfort every once in a while does it?

I saw 27 artists/acts/music performers/whatever you call them this year. Usually I'd just say 'bands' but as part of my trying to cheer up a little, I've tried to spread my music interests to stuff apart from mopey teen angst stuff, especially seeing as I'm now well into my 30s. That means at Reading Festival, which is slowly but surely being taken over by electronic music, I spent some time in the dance arena and elsewhere checking out the bass.

All of these 27 artists were seen at just four different gigs this year. First up I saw Zebrahead, Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish in London in February. Then I saw a whopping 19 acts over three days of the Reading Festival in August, then I saw Rise Against and Pennywise in London in November and finally I saw Capdown, The Skints and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in December.

The 19 acts I saw at Reading were: (deep breath) Darlia, Deaf Havana, Twin Atlantic, Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, Queens of the Stone Age, Royal Blood, Andy C, Pendulum, Arctic Monkeys, Nero, Papa Roach, The Flatliners, The Wilhelm Scream, The Wonder Years, You Me At Six, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Mayday Parade and finally Blink 182.

I had such a good time seeing so many of these but as I've called this post my 'top 10 music performances of 2014', I'm committed now to making a definitive list. So here goes:

10. Papa Roach (I LOVE these guys and have seen them almost every time they come to the UK but as this was the main stage at Reading, it wasn't that personal and intimate and I wasn't overwhelmed by a couple of their new songs).

9. Zebrahead (These guys are fun pop-punk but not the best at singing live)

8. Jimmy Eat World (Played the entire Futures album from start to finish. I wasn't even familiar with most of the songs but it felt special and I've since grown to really like the album.)

7. Reel Big Fish (These guys were a little moody but the music is infectious and a hell of a lot of fun.)

6. Nero (Seeing these guys do their stuff headlining the Radio 1 stage while the guy from the Arctic Monkeys posed and played with his hair on main stage while seemingly pretending to be Elvis was a revelation. We left Arctic Monkeys and walked towards the tent where Nero were pumping out their bass and it was like stepping into the future. Spectacular.

5. Darlia (These guys want to be Nirvana so badly and they're not doing too bad a job so far. Wicked set, climaxing with a bit of good old guitar smashing).

4. Royal Blood (Two guys, a bass guitar and a set of drums. These guys are smashing it, even if I'm getting a little tired of hearing them EVERY time I turn on the radio.)

3. Twin Atlantic (Seen them a couple of times before but never really SEEN them if you get what I mean maaaaan. They have some truly epic tunes and a lot of heart. Also the best accent to sing along to at the top of your voice.)

2. Less Than Jake (again, seen them loads of times but they are so much fun and their classics are classic and their new songs were also the bomb. A great set from one of the most fun ska punk bands around.)

1. Rise Against (Probably one of the bands I've seen most in my life since seeing them three times in 2005. Love them to bits. Every song is a blinder, the mosh pit is crazy and I got to go with my old buddy from Australia. Awesome band. Awesome set. Awesome times.)

So that was my 2014 in live music. How was yours? Anyone else see any of these sets? What did I miss?

More 2014 lists at I Love That Film:

Best Books I Read in 2014

TV in 2014

Top 10 Blockbusters of 2014

Top 10 Best True Stories of 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dumb and Dumber To Review

In the 20 years since the first film, Lloyd has been playing the most epic of pranks on Harry, his partner in dumb. Since the end of Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd has been trapped comatose in a wheelchair while Harry has patiently come to see him, changed his diapers and waited for him to snap out of it. As Dumb and Dumber To begins, Lloyd delivers the mother of all ‘Gotchas’ as Lloyd reveals he has been faking... for 20 years! It’s an amusing start to a film that can now get away with telling a story 20 years on where neither of the characters has done anything of interest in the interim. It’s like returning directors the Farrelly brothers have dangled their rods, hooked us in the mouths and shouted a big fat ‘Gotcha’ of their own.

Harry needs a kidney from a family member so after realising that his Chinese parents are actually his adopted parents, he receives the news that he also now has a grown up daughter, Penny. Harry sets off to find this daughter with Lloyd in tow, not completely out of friendship but more because Lloyd thinks the girl is hot. So begins another cross country road trip as the pair try to reach a KEN conference that Penny is speaking at. She was also adopted and is now being entrusted with delivering a speech on behalf of her adopted professor father.

Much like the last film, there are baddies in tow who want something that the dumbass pair have got hold of, so the story is very similar. Not only that, but we also pop in on the blind kid next door, have recycled jokes straight out of the first film and almost exactly the opposite of anything you would call character development. Lloyd in particular comes across as a crass, selfish prick with even the likeable Jim Carrey unable to save him from being a bit of a monster in this sequel.

There are some funny moments but these are few and far between and rely on some pretty poor humour. Like the recent Horrible Bosses 2, many of the jokes are racist and sexist with the only thing making them palatable being the fact that the white guys at the centre are so stupid that they are the real butt of all the jokes. Unfortunately Dumb and Dumber To has little of the heart of its predecessor and even invites comparisons by including clips from the first film in the end credits. 

While Carrey and Daniels work typically hard for their laughs, the main problem with Dumb and Dumber To is that despite a few good gags, the story is stale and the script fails to keep the laughs coming. It’s not atrocious, but it is a lazy and almost entirely unnecessary sequel. Do yourself a favour and just watch the trailer for the best bits:

More Reviews at I Love That Film

More Trailers at I Love That Film

London Film Festival 2014

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Golden Globe Nominations 2015 for Films

It's time for the golden balls to come out shining again. The Golden Globe nominations were announced today with Birdman soaring above the rest with 7 nominations spanning a range of categories. Selma, The Imitation Game and Boyhood are close behind, each with 5 nominations and just behind them are The Theory of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel and Gone Girl, each with 4. Others worth a mention are Foxcatcher, Into the Woods and Big Eyes which all managed to land 3 nominations each, while St Vincent and Annie scraped 2 each.

Critics favourites Whiplash, Interstellar and Nightcrawler each have a single nomination to their name with the exclusion of Whiplash from the Best Picture category most likely to cause a stir. I'm also pissed to see that White God isn't up for best foreign language film but hopefully this is just due to its release date in North America. I guess Angelina Jolie will be heartbroken over the complete snub of her second effort as director, Unbroken, which looked like a proper piece of awards bait.

Of course UK audiences will just have to sit here fuming as we have to wait until 2015 for the likes of Birdman, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Into the Woods and Whiplash to be released. At least some of these will have been released by the time Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the show on Sunday January 11th.

As usual, awards season is the only time of year that I decide to find out what it is like to have a gambling problem. I usually place some bets on the Globes and the Oscars and last year I lost some money on the Globes but won it back (with a little profit) on the Oscars. Hopefully I can continue my tiny little winning streak this year!

At least I've seen a fair few of these this year including Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Pride, St Vincent, Gone Girl, Interstellar etc etc. As long as I get into early screenings of some of the others, I'll be very happy!

Here are the nominees in full:

Best film
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best director
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava Duvernay - Selma
David Fincher - Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood

Best screenplay
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Graham Moore - The Imitation Game

Best actor, drama
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
David Oyelowo - Selma
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

Best actress, drama
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best comedy or musical
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods

Best actress, comedy or musical
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
Helen Mirren - The Hundred-Foot Journey
Julianne Moore - Maps to the Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis - Annie

Best actor, comedy or musical
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Bill Murray - St. Vincent
Joaquin Pheonix - Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz - Big Eyes

Best supporting actor
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
JK Simmons - Whiplash

Best supporting actress
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

Best score
Alexandre Desplat - The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson – The Theory of Everything
Trent Reznor – Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez - Birdman

Best song
Big Eyes – Big Eyes (Lana Del Ray)
Glory – Selma (John Legend, Common)
Mercy Is – Noah (Patty Smith, Lenny Kaye)
Opportunity – Annie
Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde) Hunger Games, Mockingjay Pt 1 (click for review)

Best animation
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie

Best foreign language film
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
Tangerine Manderin

What do you think? Got any tips for my gambling addiction? Where's the easy money at and who are the outsiders that are worth a punt?