Tuesday, 31 March 2015

30 Must See Movies in 2016

Whether it's comic books, videogames, books, sequels or something a little more original you are after, these three lists I have written for The Daily Heckle should hopefully have everyone covered. There are going to be a huge amount of adaptations and franchise additions in 2016 so strap in and read on for my 30 Must See Movies of 2016, handily divided into three different lists!

Top 10 Must-See Films of 2016: No Sequels, No Superheroes (but just one spin off)

Top 10 Must-See Superhero Films and Videogame Adaptations in 2016

Top 10 Must-See Sequels in 2016

Top 10 Male Performances in 2014

Better late than never I always say. Following up on my top 10 female performances of 2014, now it's time for the men. These were all released in the UK in 2014.

10. Andy Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

9. Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

8. Casey Affleck and Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace

7. Michael Fassbender in Frank

6. Guy Pearce in The Rover

5. Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

4. Matthew MacCougnahey in Dallas Buyers Club (and Interstellar)

3. Dan Stevens in The Guest

2. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Wild Card Review

It would be nice to say that Jason Statham unleashes his wild side in Wild Card but actually this film finds him on relatively restrained form compared to stuff like The Transporter and Crank films.

From a William Goldman script based on his own novel, Wild Card begins with a woman being ditched outside a hospital bloodied and battered. It's up to Las Vegas security consultant Nick Wild (Statham) to find the men responsible. Roughed up beyond recognition by a fighter and his bodyguards, the woman is Holly and as soon as she is out of hospital, she contacts Nick as he is the only person in Vegas who is able to help her with his particular set of skills.

Offering up some graphic detail of her rape and humiliation, Wild Card should leave audiences chomping at the bit for Statham to unleash the pain on her tormentors. Unfortunately Dominik García-Lorido is completely unconvincing as a victim of such a horrendous ordeal and the script cares little for the trauma she has endured and much more about how Statham will respond. When he sarcastically utters 'this is the highlight of my career', you suspect no acting was required.

Boxer Danny DeMarco is the vicious thug hiding up in his swanky Vegas suite. It takes almost 40 minutes for Statham to confront him and show off what he can do and when the action comes, it’s swift and brutal. With a total of just three fight scenes in the entire film, it is likely that even those that are after a simple Statham beat-em-up will be left disappointed by this one.

When revenge is served and Wild goes on a gambling binge, like in the recent The Gambler, it’s incredibly difficult to sympathise with someone who keeps raising the stakes and risking throwing away obscene amounts of money. Nick has a soft spot for Blackjack and just can't walk away from the tables, even when he's half a million up. It’s a typical plot device that will leave many screaming with frustration at the screen.

Despite a cool soundtrack and last minute appearance from a coolly sinister Stanley Tucci, overall Wild Card could have dealt a considerably better hand.

Here is the trailer:

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about The Blair Witch Project

My book on The Blair Witch Project has taken me about two years to research and write. Now it's available to buy online here,and to tempt you, here are 15 things you may not have known about the film.

1. The Blair Witch Project made nearly $250 million worldwide at the box office, which is nearly 10,000 times its production budget.

2. The Blair Witch Project started as an idea, referred to by the directing duo as far back as 1993 as The Woods Movie. The directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick took the seed of this idea and wrote a script that was only 35 pages long.

3. Far bigger budget horror efforts such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Haunting (1999) and End of Days (1999) could not compete with The Blair Witch Project’s box office draw, even with the likes of Johnny Depp, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the promise of bucket loads of CGI crammed into the trailers.

4. When an eight minute teaser of The Blair Witch Project was screened on television without revealing to the audience that it was fake, a detective called in to offer his help in finding the ‘lost’ filmmakers.

5. The Blair Witch Project was originally conceived of as a more traditional mock-documentary with the footage shot by the actors only meant to feature in the last part of the documentary on the curse of the Blair Witch through the ages. It was only after the footage Heather and Mike filmed was returned to the directors and editing had begun that the idea to use only this footage in the feature was initiated.

6. The Blair Witch Project even beat the following films at the box office: Tom Hanks in The Green Mile, nineteenth Bond film The World is Not Enough, Richard Curtis rom-com Notting Hill and Will Smith blockbuster Wild, Wild West.

7. There are many stories reported of people travelling to the town of Burkittsville where the events of the film take place in order to search for the students. Since then, fans of the film have repeatedly stolen the Burkitsville ‘welcome’ sign.

8. According to Sanchez, ‘the original budget to get the film in the can was probably between $20,000 and $25,000. Then, once we got to Sundance to make a print and do a sound mix, we were probably more in the neighbourhood of $100,000’ (Young, 2009).

9. They even bought one of the cameras then shot the film and returned it in time to get a full refund.

10. When it was bought by Artisan Entertainment at the Sundance Film Festival, they spent another half a million dollars on it. According to Sanchez, ‘they did a new sound mix, and they had us re-shoot some stuff. They didn't like the original ending with Mike standing in the corner. They asked us to shoot some new endings — Mike hanging by his neck; Mike crucified on a big stick figure; Mike with his shirt ripped open and all bloodied. We shot them but ended up staying with our original ending. So the budget of what you saw in the theatres was probably $500,000 to $750,000’ (Young, 2009).

11. On making it past the deterrents, those continuing into the actual audition found themselves thrown into an off-the-cuff improvisation, according to actor Joshua Leonard (Mannes, 1999). The directors would immediately say “You’ve been in jail for the last nine years. We’re the parole board. Why should we let you go?” Those that could not spring into character in an instant were shown the door.

12. Instead of having the directors with the actors on location, Myrick and Sanchez would leave mysterious bundles, rock piles and stick figures around for the cast to discover. They would slime the backpacks of the characters and make frightening noises in the night, at one point even attacking their tent to scare the cast. This approach was also based on producer Gregg Hale’s military training. Hale had been through Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training whilst in the army that involved four days of being chased by American soldiers pretending to be hunting for him. He spoke of his terror despite knowing that soon the ordeal would be over and that the soldiers were simply playing a part.

13. The directors had programmed ‘escape routes’ into the GPS systems and after 24 hours of rain, the cast decided to use one. They ended up at a house where Donahue reveals they were invited in for hot cocoa and got to use a real toilet (Lim, 1999).

14. By the last two days of the shoot, Heather and Michael, the two remaining cast members, were only being fed a single Power Bar and a banana per day.

15. The directors had to cut 20 hours of raw footage down into an 80 minute film.

Let me guess... you probably did know some of those. Well I'm sorry but I had to convince you to read it somehow. Anyway please consider buying a copy of my book here

Top 10 Female Performances of 2014

Better late than never! Here are my top 10 performances by women in the films of 2014, going by UK release dates.

10. Aubrey Plaza in Life After Beth

9. Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin

8. Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars

7.  Juno Temple in Magic Magic

6.  Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars

5.  Hilary Swank in The Homesman

4.  Essie Davis in The Babadook

3.  Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

2.  Lupita N’yongo in 12 Years A Slave

1. Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Daily Heckle articles: Scary Kids Movies, Jeremy Clarkson and Game of Thrones shockers

I've been doing a bit of writing for The Daily Heckle recently. They offer cash for articles so if any of my fellow bloggers are interested, I recommend you get straight in touch.

First up, I wrote about Scary Movies for Kids. There aren't any surprises on this list but they all sure as hell scared the crap out of me as a kid. Except one which wasn't around when I was a kid but still bloody scared me as an adult.

Then I wrote an opinion piece on whether or not the BBC should sack Jeremy Clarkson after his scuffle with a Top Gear producer. I won't tell you which way I leaned so hopefully you may just give the article a read!

Most recently, I wrote an article on the top 10 most shocking moments from Game of Thrones so far. Again, there won't be many surprises on this list but it was great fun going back through those moments that make Game of Thrones such an incredibly memorable series.

That's all for now, but in the upcoming weeks, I'll be writing about the must see movies of 2016.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Trailer Demands Rewatching

I'm glad the trailer for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation didn't self-destruct as soon as I'd finished watching it for the first time. I've now watched this trailer four or five times and each time I just can't wait for it to get to those final few seconds of Tom Cruise doing what he does best and hanging off a jet that is taking off at god knows what speed.

I'm no big fan of the first three Mission Impossible films. The first had some great (and iconic) moments, the second was completely forgettable crap and the third was ok. But the fourth film, Ghost Protocol blew my socks off. Cruise is a born entertainer and even with all his money and success, just keeps trying to up the ante, especially with this franchise. The Burj Khalifa scrambling scene was a dizzying stand out in an otherwise excellent action film.

I'm not sure if they can hold on to that magic, particularly with Brad Bird departing as director after just one outing, but from the look of this trailer, I think they may have come pretty close. The more Simon Pegg in these films the better and this jet stunt looks like another level of insanity from Tom Cruise; the guy with the most exciting job in the world.

Reading about the lengths they went to in order to get this incredible stunt done has made me even more in awe and desperate to see the sequence in full. Check out this interview with Cruise and new director Chritopher McQuarrie over at Yahoo Movies and then watch this trailer AGAIN!

More trailers from I Love That Film
Reviews from I Love That Film

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Still Alice Review

Julianne Moore finally gets the recognition she deserves from the Academy with an attention grabbing performance that is sure to tug at the heart strings of audiences around the world.  

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a happily married woman with three grown children and a successful career as a renowned linguistics professor. Soon after turning 50, Alice begins to forget words and decides to see a neurologist as her memory starts to decline in other ways. It starts with just missing a few words here and there, but then she starts to forget where she is, even on the campus where she works. Alice receives the devastating diagnosis that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease and that her life, and that of her family, is about to rapidly and dramatically change. 

Alec Baldwin is the husband too wrapped up in his own work to even notice his wife’s struggle until Alice lets it all spill out one night. While Alice has to face no longer working, her husband John remains committed to his own career, testing their bond and making life more difficult for both of them. Alice’s grown children all have their own issues with eldest daughter Kate Bosworth trying to get pregnant and Kristen Stewart desperate to become an actress, much to her mother’s disapproval. 

Based on the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is a weepy, depressing film. Luckily, and ironically for a film called Still Alice, it barely stays still for a moment. Despite the slow, mournful soundtrack, Still Alice rushes through its story. Alice’s Alzheimer’s comes on rapidly, affecting her life and the life of her family quickly and viciously. It is a shame that there is not more time to get to know the characters of her kids as Bosworth, Stewart and Hunter Parrish in particular feel completely short changed by a script that barely explores their reaction to their mother’s illness. 

It’s an aggressive, destructive disease that not only eats at Alice’s mind, but also threatens to attack the three children. The inherited nature of the disease means that they all have a 50/50 chance of developing it also, and then on passing it on to their own children. However, this is only briefly alluded to and the focus remains very much on Moore’s central character. Alice is a fiercely intelligent woman who relishes her mind and finds the erosion of her cognitive capacity to be unbearable. 

Moore is an actress who often looks on the verge of crying anyway, but Still Alice gives her the opportunity to really give those tear ducts a workout. At times trying desperately to appear normal and happy for her children and at others, letting all her emotions loose, Moore unsurprisingly delivers on all fronts. Seeing her transformation from remarkable and vivacious career woman to tragic victim hits home most notably in the scene when her old self comes face to face with the woman she has become. Before succumbing to the disease, Alice makes a video for herself to watch in the future, and this moment really brings home just how much she has changed.

At forty minutes into the film, this is Alice making a tragic, life-altering decision that will leave audiences feeling defeated and hopeless. It’s a brave or cowardly choice from Alice, depending on your viewpoint, but it also lends the rest of the film a terrible inevitability. It is clear that there is no way that Sill Alice can have a happy ending, no matter what the outcome is.

Though there are occasional moments of happiness, the score is all heartbreaking stings and melancholy piano. Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland aren’t letting anyone off easily when watching this story full of despair. They plant us in the headspace of Alice with her surroundings often out of focus , reflecting the confusion and distance she begins to feel, even in the most familiar of surroundings. They use Moore’s face continuously to reveal the inner torment that she feels as her memory deteriorates. On the one hand, there is some respite from the misery in knowing that she lived a full life and got to watch her children grow up, but on the other, the irony that such an intelligent woman, so passionate about words and communication is now starting to lose her ability to speak is all the more tragic.

When Alice sums up living with her disease in an impassioned speech to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is a rare moment of triumph in a film that does not deal in joy and overcoming adversity. Still Alice is a film about loss, about perceptions of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and about the effects it has on the victims and (to a far lesser extent) those around them. Despite Moore’s excellent performance, Bosworth, Stewart and Baldwin could have been given more to do by a script that should have spent more time exploring the effects on those around Alice. 

Watch the trailer:

More 2015 Oscar contender reviews:


American Sniper


The Theory of Everything


Big Hero 6