Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The World's End (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 109 minutes
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, Bill Nighy
The World's End is currently showing in UK cinemas. Opens in Australian cinemas on the 1st of August and the USA on the 23rd of August 2013 and is distributed by Universal Studios worldwide.

The Three Colours Cornetto Trilogy comes to a close in spectacular fashion with The World's End.

 The World's End is British comedy at it's best. When things become slightly ridiculous in the film, the comedy just keeps coming with another very funny and witty script by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Whether you have watched the first two films in the trilogy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz or not, you can enjoy this film, but having watched the first two would give you the privilege of understanding some of the subtle and amusing recurrences of the films.

On the last day of high school back in 1990 in the English village of Newton Haven, Gary King (Simon Pegg), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Andy (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) decide to go on a pub crawl of the 12 pubs in town. As they do not end up being able to finish the crawl, Gary, who is still greatly living in the past, convinces all of the now grown men to give it another go. They arrive back to their home town and nothing will stop Gary reaching the final pub, The World's End. Even the end of the world itself.

The Three Colours Cornetto Trilogy of films by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (which got it's name from the presence of a different flavour/colour Cornetto in each of the films and is a comedic ode to the French Three Colours trilogy) are not a trilogy in the traditional sense, as they are a set of films which have their team in common and a few recurring themes, but no interconnecting storyline or characters. So the great thing about this is that you don't need to have watched either of the first two films in order to enjoy it. However, if you haven't seen the first two, you may notice when in the cinema that some people may be laughing a lot more than you when a certain person appears on the screen or in moments when something which means nothing to you happens.

The dialogue of the film is wonderfully hilarious. It certainly helps that all the characters have such great chemistry together that they are able to bounce off each other in their hilarious conversations. The final scene with Gary, Andy and Steven is such an intelligent piece of comedy writing especially.The story of this group of guys on an epic pub crawl and their story which encompasses a great deal of character development is great fun.

However, it is the apocalypse core of the story which starts to make the film seem a little ridiculous. Let's face it, there is a tidal wave of apocalyptic films at the moment and the majority of the causes of the apocalypse are unrealistic. The blue-blooded robotic apocalypse in The World's End is not just farfetched, but it just comes off being ridiculous. You could argue that it is the end of the world and it is allowed to be farfetched if it is in a comedy film, but it just crosses the line between random and being a little too random. Luckily, the comedy continues around this undoing of the human race and while the actual apocalyptic visuals make the film askew, the wonderful dialogue keeps flowing and does not turn from hilarity to stupidity.

Simon Pegg has no problem being the lead man when it comes to his films. In his black attire and condescending, sarcastic dialogue at times he could well be channelling Adrian Edmondson's Vyvyan from "The Young Ones", but that is no problem because it is perfect for his character of Gary King who is dying to relive the glory of his younger years. Pegg has the ability to give an incredibly emotional and charismatic performance which you have to see past his comedy for, and this is another film he has been able to do that in. Nick Frost is also very good and a great character in this film. He and Pegg show once again why they are such an effective duo on the big screen.

The World's End is one for anyone who loves a laugh and a British pub.


You may have also seen Simon Pegg in......
Paul as Graeme
Star Trek Into Darkness as Scotty

You may have also seen Nick Frost in.....
Paul as Clive

Friday, July 26, 2013

Top 10 Films Featuring British Royalty

Photo courtesy of

Welcome into the world little Prince George Alexander Louis!

Like so many people around the world, we are so excited about the latest addition to the British royal family. William and Kate look so thrilled with their beautiful son and will be wonderful parents to this little boy who will one day be King George VII.

As a celebratory post for the new parents and royal enthusiasts everywhere, we have conducted a poll in which hundreds of votes were tallied to find out what the best films to feature members of the British monarchy both past and present are. Some of the results may surprise you and hopefully some of them will encourage you to find these wonderful historical films which demonstrate how there are some truly amazing stories embedded in British history.

Please note that this list is based purely on the votes which we received to determine the order in which these films appear and which films are included. Movie Critical has not altered the list in any way from the way in which votes were received.

10. Mrs Brown (1997)

Coming in tenth place in Mrs Brown. In this 1997 film, Judi Dench was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the grieving Queen Victoria who befriends a member of her household, Mr John Brown (Billy Connolly) much to the dismay of her advisors. Dench's performance is exquisite as she shows a side of Queen Victoria that was not on display to the public who always saw her as a strong leading figure. Her mourning of her late husband, Prince Albert is heartbreaking and the family dynamics featured in the film between her and her children are exceptionally powerful.

9. The Young Victoria (2009)

From one Queen Victoria portrayal to another, The Young Victoria is number nine. This film, as the name suggests, is about Queen Victoria's younger years from the year before she was crowned to the birth of her first child (Victoria and Albert had nine children together). The Young Victoria is such a success for a number of reasons. It has been critiqued by many as being exceptionally historical accurate with amazing performances, particularly by Emily Blunt as Victoria (who earned a Golden Globe nomination), Rupert Friend as Albert and Miranda Richardson as the Duchess of Kent. It is also a love story about Victoria and Albert, who's love for each other was extremely obvious to all who knew and looked upon them.

8. The Queen (2006)

2006's The Queen is about our current monarch and is set in 1997 during the days in which Diana, Princess of Wales was taken from this world. Number eight on our list is remembered in most part for the incredible portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II by Helen Mirren, who won the Academy Award for her extraordinary efforts. While the film as a whole is also wonderful, it is Mirren who's name is always mentioned in the same sentence when this movie is spoken about. Apart from the incredible physical likeness, she personified the reigning monarch so well and allowed everyone to see a different side of the Queen than what we normally see and what we saw during those dark days.

7. The Virgin Queen (1955)

Bette Davis' second career portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I (her first being in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex) in The Virgin Queen is certainly a favourite with Tudor and film fans alike. Anybody who knows anything about Davis knows that she was an incredibly feisty woman and this is a quality that Queen Elizabeth I also possessed. Therefore, Davis was a wonderful Elizabeth and a thrill to watch. The Virgin Queen tells of when Sir Walter Raleigh (played by Richard Todd) comes to court to convince the Queen to allow him a voyage to the New World. He wins her favour, but also the favour of one of her ladies in waiting, Beth Throgmorton (Joan Collins).

6. The Lion In Winter (1968)

The Lion In Winter is the film on this list which is set the furthest back in time in 1163 AD. King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) is aging and yet to name which one of his three son's will be his successor. While he is deciding, his three sons and his imprisoned wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn) decide to force his hand over a very heated Christmas period. This film contains one of the best screenplays you will ever see with incredibly witty banter between all of the characters, resulting in some of the best arguments on screen. All performances are wonderful, but Katharine Hepburn leaves the biggest mark on the film and this was the role that earned Hepburn her third Academy Award.

5. The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech charmed everyone who saw it by way of it's touching story which made the royal family seem as human as the rest of us, beautiful performances and also it's wonderful and at times, very funny script. Based on the diaries found by Mark Logue, the grandson of speech therapist Lionel Logue (played in the film by Geoffrey Rush), The King's Speech is about King George VI's (Colin Firth) succession to the throne and his battle to overcome his lifelong stutter. Firth is another actor on this list which earned an Academy Award for his efforts, as the film's director, Tom Hooper and the film also did on this occasion. The King's Speech is to this date one of only 3 films which Movie Critical has reviewed which has earned a 10/10 review.

4. Lady Jane (1986)

Lady Jane is a surprise coming in at fourth on our list. The 1986 film stars Helena Bonham Carter in the lead role as Lady Jane Grey, the ill-fated girl who was queen for only nine days before she was beheaded by order of her cousin, Queen Mary I. Lady Jane is also a love story, as it is also the retelling of the course of Jane's marriage to Guildford Dudley (Cary Elwes). As opposed to her Tudor cousins, the story of Lady Jane Grey is not overly popular and so this film is a treat for historians. It is a wonderful representation of the time period and quite emotional to see this poor girl forced into something which leads to such a tragic end.

3. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Philippa Gregory has received wide criticism for the inaccuracies historians declare are in her novels, and the film based on perhaps her most successful novel, The Other Boleyn Girl has had it's fair share of criticism for the same and other reasons. However, none of this has stopped intrigue in neither her books nor in this film and that is why it has been voted into third position on our list of films featuring British royalty. The relationship between Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn (portrayed by Eric Bana and Natalie Portman in this film) has been a source of intrigue for centuries. The Other Boleyn Girl has a different retelling of their relationship, as it includes sibling rivalry between Anne and her sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson) for the affections of the king. Although not historically accurate and flawed in particular ways, it still creates enough intrigue and is representative of such a pivotal point in history that it is still memorable and a favourite of many.

2. Elizabeth (1998)

From one Tudor film that has been criticised for historical inaccuracy to another which has been praised the opposite. Elizabeth tells of the young Tudor princess'(Cate Blanchett) rise to the throne against all odds and her trials in the first year of her reign, particularly with her chosen love, Sir Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). The film completely throws it's audience into the Tudor world of power and deception. However dangerous a world, it is pure heaven and so addictive to see on screen. Blanchett is wonderful and it is her and Davis that are the most popular Elizabeth I's to appear on the screen so far. It is brilliant watching her change on screen from a free spirit young girl to the Queen with a hard exterior who was married only to England.

1. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

As said before, the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is one which has captured the imagination of people for centuries. For those who have seen Anne of the Thousand Days, it will come as no surprise that this film has been voted the number one film of all time that features members of the British monarchy. Susan Bordo's book, "The Creation Of Anne Boleyn" (available here from Amazon) talks of how many people believe that Genevieve Bujold's portrayal of Anne Boleyn is the one which culture would have you believe is the most accurate. A strong and feisty woman who's beauty charmed the king, but was also what brought forth her downfall.

Other films that came close to being in the top 10 are:-
The Madness of King George (1994)
Becket (1964)
A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Mary, Queen Of Scots (1971)
Henry V (1989)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Frances Ha (2012)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 86 minutes
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writers: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig
Cast: Great Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver, Michael Zegan

Frances Ha will be showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival on the 8th and 10th of August 2013. Please see here for times, venues and tickets. Will also be showing at the Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian cinema at 6:30pm on the 9th of August 2013 at Dendy Opera Quays. Please see here for further details.

Frances Ha opens in Australian cinemas on the 15th of August 2013 and is distributed by Transmission Films.

Frances Ha is a charming tale of one girl's quarter life crisis in motion.

There is something so magical about Frances Ha. It almost feels like a New York fairy tale, yet there is nothing to suggest that it is so besides the charmed feeling you get after you have seen it. However, it is also harshly real and will strike a chord with many twenty-somethings who are experiencing what Frances is in the film.

Frances (Great Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) and two best friends in their late twenties living in Brooklyn. In Frances' words, they are the same person with different hair, as they both have big dreams but lack the motivation to make those dreams happen when they are just enjoying being alive. When Sophie breaks the news to Frances that she is moving out and starts becoming a real adult, Frances starts to realise that she isn't quite an adult herself at 27 with no real job and is seemingly "undateable".

Frances Ha is a completely relatable film for the twenty-somethings of today who are trying to find their way in the world. For those who are, it is quite confronting to watch at times as there are many qualities in Frances that people can relate to. At the beginning of the film, Frances seems like the type of person we would all love to be like. She seems so free and in love with love as she enjoys the simple of pleasures of pretend fighting in the park, dancing like no one is watching and laughs with her best friend over the simplest things. However, as the film goes on, you worry and become embarrassed about the decisions she is making and the place where she could end up as a result. It will definitely hit those who are in a similar situation hard, but does provide a generous ending to show that the storm passes. It is a real coming of age film for the older young generation.

The screenplay, written by director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig, is wonderful. The dialogue is just divine and so real, but the best thing about the film is that so much is told without the use of dialogue. Not once does Frances actually talk about the inner turmoil she is going through, but you can tell exactly the way she is feeling. She learns so much from what is going on around her both in her own situation and other peoples situations, but the beauty of it is that even though her character is so upbeat, you can tell what is going on in her head and how torn she is feeling.
The film has been likened to earlier Woody Allen films as New York itself is a living, breathing character in the film. The choice to film the movie in it's entirety in black and white adds to the charm of the city. It is enough to make or rekindle anyone's love for the city. The soundtrack for the film is also perfectly fitting. David Bowie's "Modern Love" is the perfect theme song for the character of Frances and adds to the brilliance of the continuity in the scene where Frances is running down the streets of New York dancing. The cinematography and editing of the film is also wonderful.

Greta Gerwig is incredible. This movie has absolutely been her moment to shine. Not only has she co-written this film, but she is so charismatic as Frances. She makes the audience become her friend with her likability and takes them on her journey with her. Although the character can almost become irritating with how she doesn't want to seem to help herself at times, you still want her to succeed and be happy. There is so much character development and growth throughout the film and Gerwig completely personifies this. In a film where so much if unspoken, she does incredibly well to allow everyone to see how she is feeling in the most subtle fashion. Mickey Sumner also does well as Sophie, but it is Gerwig who is the star and scene stealer.

Frances Ha is a film which many people can relate to and is confronting in the most subtle way. Sweet, sad and uplifting.


The Melbourne International Film Festival will run from the 25th July-11th August 2013. Please see the official website for more information.
The Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema will run from the 8th-18th August 2013. Please see the official website for more information.

You may have also seen Greta Gerwig in.......
Arthur as Naomi

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Possible Worlds Film Festival: Gimme The Loot (2012)

Year: 2012
Running Time: 81 minutes
Director: Adam Leon
Cast: Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Zoe Lescaze, Meeko, Sam Soghor
Gimme The Loot will be showing at this year's Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema at 6:30pm on the 11th of August 2013 at Dendy Opera Quays. For information on tickets, please see here

Gimme The Loot gives an insight into the less glamorous face of New York while telling a glistening story about two young people trying to find their way.

In a time where many films fail to make character development one of their priorities, Gimme The Loot makes us feel as though we have known these two teenagers and have seen them grow for years rather than an 80 minute time period. It allows a unique look into the raw, urban side of New York City which we don't normally see on the big screen in a wonderfully directed and written film by Adam Leon.

Two teen graffiti artists, Sofia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) hatch a plan to get revenge on a rival graffiti gang who have buffed their latest work. The two decide that they are going to tag the New York Mets Home Run Apple in their baseball stadium. In order to do so, they need to obtain $500 as quickly as possible over a summer weekend in New York. It's a weekend which will see them grow and learn about life, respect and trust.

Straight off the bat, Gimme The Loot is an exceptionally rare and unique film. It is unpredictable, incredibly creative and captivating from beginning to end. However, the film  is not suspenseful, emotional or exceptionally confronting, but neither is it supposed to be. The perfect slogan for this film is that it is all about the journey, not the destination, as watching how these two characters learn from this quest is just great fun. These two are streetwise and have speak with colourful, witty and often very funny dialogue.

Wonderfully directed by Leon, the streets if the Bronx are brought to life and the audience immediately becomes familiar with how it would feel to be on these streets. The landscape of the Bronx is harsh, yet so very interesting to see with it's street stalls and water towers. The soundtrack is absolutely perfect for the film and most enjoyable.

Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson have an incredible amount of chemistry on screen. Their truly platonic relationship changes throughout the film as the two gain respect for each other and themselves in a way they didn't have to begin with. Their ease of  conversation and continuous banter is humorous and enjoyable to listen to. The two seem so natural in their roles, especially Washington who makes Sofia such a strong character with evident soft undertones.

Gimme The Loot is an enjoyable film which many bigger budget films could learn about creating true characters from.


Gimme The Loot is the 2012 winner of the SXSW Film Festival and Adam Leon won the title of Someone To Watch at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards. Also Official Selection at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The 2013 Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema will be running in Sydney from the 8th-18th August at Dendy Opera Quays and Newtown. Please see the official site for more information.

On a side note.....
For those of us who are not New York Mets fans or live in New York or the USA, I had to find out more about this apple that rises up when the team hits a home run. I was sure it didn't look as strange as what it sounded during the film.

I have actually been to see the New York Mets play once when I was in New York back in 2008, but alas, nobody hit a home run so I was unable to witness this apple rising up. So I asked my friends who are big Mets supporters and attend many of the games and they were able to help me out with my apple enquiries.

It made a great deal more sense when I learnt a bit more about it. Of course, the apple is a symbol of New York being "The Big Apple". The original apple which was at Shea Stadium was moved when the Mets changed grounds to Citi Field Stadium and now sits out the front. Please see this article at Gothamist website for a look at where the original apple now sits, and here is a YouTube clip of the old apple in action!

Thannkyou to my friends and New York Mets fans Michael and Hanna Thompson for their help with this article.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Wolverine (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 126 minutes
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova

The Wolverine will delight some, disappoint others and completely confuse those who have never seen a X-Men film before.The latest film to come out from the X-Men phenomenon is unlike any of it's predecessors in that it is not a typical superhero film, but it still finds in it the ability to be thoroughly entertaining.

Set in the time after X-Men 3, Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is facing his inner demons while trying to get over his great love, Jean (Famke Janssen) and has decided on a solitary life in the American wilderness. He is forced to face his past when Yukio (Rila Fukushima) appears to bring Logan back to Japan where he can say goodbye to Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), a soldier who's life he saved during the war. Logan soon becomes involved in the family politics of his family after his death and makes it his duty to watch over Yashida's grand daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), while at the same time trying to save his life when he encountered by deadly mutant, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova).

What will disappoint or delight many X-Men fans is the fact that The Wolverine is unlike any other X-Men film. Logan and his enemy of the film, Viper are the only two mutants in the film, and Viper isn't exactly a tremendously exciting mutant or villain for the fact there is no background on her or character development at all. She is hardly a good character as we hardly know anything about her besides she is venomous. Those who have not seen any previous X-Men fans will think the same about Logan. There is very little background on him as a character and of the story between he and Jean. As a result, The Wolverine is not a particularly good stand alone film. Yet, seeing as it is so unlike the other films in the series, it seems very out of place and not traditionally like a film of it's kind.

The Wolverine is a film which focuses more on a man's fight to overcome his demons and what are the events which lead to his closure. The story itself is quite weak and the film progresses forward more by it's action and the intrigue created by being set in Japan and it's culture. However untraditional this "superhero" film may be, there is no lack of action. Viewed best in 3D, there are some very impressive sequences featuring the combination of Wolverine's known choice of combat and traditional Japanese martial arts in some even more impressive locations. A particularly memorable fighting scene occurs on top of a bullet train. Even though the film was filmed greatly in Australia, it completely captures the essence of being in Japan and some of the scenery shots are so beautiful that it is actually quite devastating to know that it was filmed elsewhere.

Hugh Jackman does well as he is expected to do from a role which he has been playing for the last 13 years and has made his own. It still cannot by denied that he does give a good performance as Logan/Wolverine and for such a hard shelled character, he does gain the audience's sympathy and is, as always, the perfect lead man. Rila Fukushima is a real treat as Yukio. She is not physically the stereotypical action movie girl, but she is extremely likable and a very interesting character.

The Wolverine may not be what everyone is expecting out of a X-Men related film, but it is a fitting platform for the road to 2014's X-Men Days Of Future Past.


You may have also seen Hugh Jackman in.....
Les Miserables as Jean Valjean

On a side note....
Just for some fun, here is a picture of Hugh Jackman and Psy. Those Wolverine claws are the perfect accessory for "Gangnam Style"! Photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Introduction to the Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema 2013

Just as the Melbourne International Film Festival is wrapping up down south, the Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema is just starting in Sydney!

The 8th annual Possible Worlds Festival will be running from the 8th-18th of August 2013 in Sydney at Dendy Opera Quays and Dendy Newtown. The festival will also move from Sydney to Canberra for the 21st-23rd of August at the ARC Cinema. This year's festival contains 20 official entrants, ten of which are from the United States and ten from Canada. Presented by The Festivalists and Cosmos Tours, the festival showcases films from both The United States and Canada and the awards include the Audience Award for Best Film presented by World Movies.

Movie Critical will be reviewing several of the films which are part of this years Possible Worlds Festival in Sydney. Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the reviews as they happen and all the latest news from the Possible Worlds Festival in Sydney.

For more information on the Possible Worlds Festival of American & Canadian Cinema please visit their Official Website for the 2013 schedule, program guide and ticket information.

Follow the Possible Worlds Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Introduction to the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival

In another very exciting first for Movie Critical this year, we will be travelling down to Melbourne this year for the 61st annual Melbourne International Film Festival.

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) will run from the 25th July through to the 11th of August. The festival, which had it's beginnings in 1952, will this year be showcasing over 300 films over it's 17 days at various locations around Melbourne. It is one of the biggest film festival's in Australia and is the country's biggest showcase of Australian cinema. MIFF also contains many of the current films from world cinema and is committed to promoting the newest talent in filmmaking both domestically and internationally.

Movie Critical will be in Melbourne for the final few days of the festival this year and attending some of the highlights of the festival, including the Australian premiere of Artifact, which the band 30 Seconds To Mars will be attending. We will also be attending and giving a review of the current Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Several of the films which will be screening at MIFF we reviewed at the Sydney Film Festival last month. Here is a list of the films Movie Critical reviewed which are showing at MIFF and the links for their reviews from the Sydney Film Festival.

I Am Divine


Soldate Jeannette


For Those In Peril


Please join Movie Critical for our coverage of the 2013 Melbourne Film Festival over the next few weeks and don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Please visit the Official Melbourne International Film Festival Website for the official program and details on tickets.

Le Prenom (What's In A Name?) (2012)

Year: 2012
Director: Alexandre de la Pattelliere and Matthieu Delaporte
Cast: Patrick Bruel, Valerie Benguigui, Charles Berling, Guillaume de Tonquedec, Judith El Zein
Le Prenom (What's In A Name?) will be released and distributed by Madman in Australia on the 25th of July 2013
What's In A Name? is an incredibly intelligent film based purely on character and dialogue.
Alexandre de la Patteliere and Matthieu Delaporte's latest starts off as one film, but ends as another. What's In A Name? begins as a clever and enjoyable comedy and stems into a French version of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? with some intense arguments that will seems all to familiar to some couples and families.  
Married couple, Elisabeth (Valerie Benguigui) and Pierre (Charles Berling) host a small dinner party for their lifelong friend, Claude (Guillaume de Tonquedec) and Elisabeth's brother, Vincent (Patrick Bruel) and his pregnant wife, Anna (Judith El Zein). All seems to be going swimmingly until Vincent announces the name he will be giving to his son, there seems to be no one in the room who shares his enthusiasm. What ensues is a night full of confrontations regarding everything  these people have been keeping to themselves regarding each other.
The film of What's In A Name? is based on the play by Matthieu Delaporte, who also co-directed and wrote the adaptation. So as a result, you would expect the screenplay to be wonderful, and that it is. The dialogue is extremely witty, intelligent and enjoyable. It is extremely well done how the film just flows through the night without any sudden hold ups in the film. It is also not predictable at all, especially when it comes to Claude's confession which is the funniest part of the second half of the film.
In saying that, up until the point where Anna enters the film, What's In A Name? is a very funny and sweet film. When Anna enters the film, it all turns rather nasty. It actually becomes quite uncomfortable watching this family turn on each other and the characters you were actually really enjoying watching to begin with, you start to dislike intensely. The perfect example is the character of Elisabeth. To begin with she seems relatable and so realistic, yet as the film goes on she starts to seem nothing less of spiteful and incredibly mean. The funny thing is, this revelation makes the character who you initially didn't like seem like the good guy by the end of the film. It is quite a thing of genius to be able to switch the sympathy between characters like that. While the script is still almost flawless in the second half of the film, this half is the less enjoyable of the two.
What's in a Name, Movie
The first five minutes of the film would be wonderful for French viewers who don't need to read subtitles, but for those who do not speak the language of the film, it is actually quite annoying. What's In A Name? has an Amelie type beginning where the characters are introduced in a montage which highlights their key characteristics and before that, has a montage of the path a pizza delivery man take to the apartment where all this is going to take place. The trip to the apartment is a beautiful montage of Paris and all it's glory. However, if you are not watching this in French, you are missing the beautiful visuals and the visuals that accompany the character's as you are trying to read the subtitles. The shots in the montage are way too quick and if you blink or read a subtitle, you miss it.
It is the men in What's In A Name? who steal the limelight. Patrick Bruel, Charles Berling and Guillaume de Tonquedec are all fantastic to watch and do not miss a beat through the film. They all have great comedic timing, but all have a great deal of individual character. Valerie Benguigui is good, but, as said before, she has the stigma of being such an unlikable character by the end.
What's In A Name? is very intelligent film and the first half is so much fun. Maybe it would have been better as a short film if you are after a light hearted comedy, but it works well as a feature film if you want a laugh, but also want to be challenged.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amour (2012)

Year: 2012
Country: Austria
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Jean- Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Amour is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray everywhere

Amour is as tragic and heartbreaking as it is hauntingly beautiful.

Michael Haneke has provided every ingredient in order to create an absolute masterpiece with Amour. The film completely emotionally captivates it's audience from beginning to end with absolutely astounding performances and beautiful direction.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are a married couple in their eighties who are retired music teachers living in Paris. Life is seemingly peaceful and idyllic, until the day that Anne suffers a stroke which leaves her paralysed down one side. As Anne's physical and mental health rapidly deteriorates, the couple's bond is tested and their relationship changes it's course.

Amour is a heartbreaking reminder of our own mortality and  what happens to the relationships around us as the end approaches in such a way that is seen in this film. The film can be very emotional to watch as it progresses, but it rewards you at the end with a beautiful and fitting ending. It is the type of ending which makes you uncomfortable before almost straight away making you feel at peace yourself.

Even though the beginning of the film gives you the final outcome of the film, it still avoids predictability by not giving away how it will come to that finale and engrosses you completely regardless of whether you know the ending or not. The script, also written by Michael Haneke, is just beautiful as it shows how hard you have to work at a marriage whether it be in your first days as husband and wife or your last. It brings forth the worries that a couple will always have no matter how old they are, but also the little things that make a marriage work such as a sense of humour and playfulness, as well as common interests (which is music in this case).

Haneke's direction is just exquisite. The majority of Amour involves only two people and is set almost completely inside their apartment. Haneke makes sure throughout the film that the rooms of the apartment and the way in which they are seen on film fits the mood of the scene which they are in. He uses different lighting in the chosen room in each scene it is ion and each time you see a particular room, it isn't in the same circumstance and therefore has a completely different feel to it. Like the ending, the apartment seems to be it's most peaceful right at the end.

There could not be enough praise given to Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Trintignant is wonderful as Georges. It is incredible to watch how his character changes with Anne's change in health. He starts off such a strong personality as seen when he and Anne are talking at the beginning, but he begins to wear out bit by bit and even when he is trying to stand up to one of Anne's nurses, he is just too tired to make himself seem threatening.

Emmanuelle Riva is just astonishing. She commands the audience's sympathy and you feel all of her frustration and sadness. Although the state of her body is deteriorating, it is her expressions that give away how worn out her soul is getting as the end draws near.

There is one stunning quote in Amour that stays with you. When looking through a photo album, Anne says "Isn't it beautiful?" to which Georges replies "What?", and she says "Life".

This is such an incredible line and is what we should all take away from seeing such a beautiful film that reminds you of the beauty there is in our existence.


On a side note.....
Amour was the only film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards earlier this year that Movie Critical was not able to review before the awards. With this review, all nine nominees for the category have now been reviewed. The other eight nominees were:-
Argo (Best Picture winner)
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

You may also like to check out our wrap up of the week that we were in Hollywood for the Oscars here. Movie Critical will be back in Hollywood for the week of the Academy Awards in 2014 and will be reviewing all the films to be nominated leading up to the event.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Monsters University (2013)

Year: 2013
Director: Dan Scanlon
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Charlie Day, Steve Buscemi
Monsters University is now showing in cinemas everywhere

Twelve years on from when we first met Mike and Sully in Monsters Inc., we take a step back in time to when these two lovable monsters first became best friends at university.

If you are expecting Monsters University to be the same sort of film as Monsters Inc., it isn't that. As a sequel, it isn't as good as the first film, which is what one would have been expecting anyway. However, it is a very different film with not as much feeling and heart, but still has the focus on friendship and will make anyone reminiscent of their college days.

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) has been dreaming of attending Monsters University to study to be a scarer all his life and finally his time has arrived. When he arrives, he is faced with the same doubt he has been receiving all his life about how scary he actually is by his classmates and superiors including natural scarer, James "Sully" Sullivan (John Goodman). Mike is an outcast in his school of monsters, but when he and Sully are kicked out of the Scarers program by Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), the two join take part in the Scarers Games in order to win a wager to get back into the program. They join forces with a group of misfits to make sure their dreams stay alive.

Monsters University is an entertaining film for the most part. It takes awhile to get going, but finds it's momentum in the latter half of the Scarer Games. The world of the Monsters University is well created and a lot of fun. Disney Pixar films are always a joy to watch and this film is no exception. It is visually perfect and the use of colour is brilliant.

While Monsters Inc. was suited for all ages including little children, Monsters University is not quite as suitable for this age bracket. Children may not be able to relate as much to seeing Mike and Sully go to university as they are not familiar with college days as of yet, but they will still enjoy seeing the children later in the film. Those who have been to college will enjoy all the clever parallels that the university in the film has with the actual college experience. There is college football, Welcome Week fair's, frat parties and, of course, lectures and exams.

While the actual content may not be relatable for children, the characters are always relatable. There is every type of person you would find in not just college, but in every year of school itself. There are the jocks, the sorority girls, the arty types and the outcasts who are all on the outer of the cool kids for different reasons.

One thing that Monsters University is not is cliché. This is almost a refreshing change to many Disney animated films, yet it is at the same time confusing and a tad unsettling. The lesson you feel you are supposed to be learning is a harsh one regarding dreams that come true and dreams that don't. Some people will enjoy something different from a Disney film, but other people would much rather feel the Disney magic the way they feel it should be. There isn't a great deal of emotion to be felt throughout the film, which is something that is greatly missed. Monsters University is nowhere near as heartfelt as what Monsters Inc. was. Even as a stand alone film, it feels like you should be feeling the same disappointment as the characters and feeling sympathy for them, but it just isn't there.

The screenplay is still well written, but has the obstacle that being a prequel, it was always going to be slightly predictable as to where the best friends end up. However, this is dealt with well and has a few little surprises along the way.

Billy Crystal and John Goodman bring back to life Mike and Sully extremely well. They are both fine voice actors as they allow their voices to morph into their characters. Helen Mirren is also great and quite chilling as Dean Hardscrabble. Steve Buscemi's Randy doesn't have as big a role as in Monsters Inc., but still puts in a great vocal performance in his time.

Monsters University seems to be slightly confused about what it is. It's college related content suggests that older children and adults may be able to relate to the film better than small children, yet the film itself can be a little too slow to be thoroughly engrossing for older audiences. Still entertaining, but not overwhelming.


You may have also seen John Goodman in....
The Artist as Al Zimmer
Argo as John Chambers

You may have also seen Helen Mirren in.....
The Last Station as Sofya Tolstoy
Hitchcock as Alma Reville

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Year: 2013
Director:  Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson
The Lone Ranger is now showing in cinemas everywhere

Not much good has been said about  Disney's The Lone Ranger since it has been released.

Straight off the bat, the expectations for The Lone Ranger were always going to be incredibly high for the fact that it's production company is Walt Disney Studios. Disney are one company who are always capable of creating a classic. It is true that The Lone Ranger may not be a classic, but it is definitely not the worst movie of 2013. It is far from the best, but there is something about this bunch of silliness that does make it entertaining enough.

In 1866, a train chugs towards the future carrying lawyer, John Reid (Armie Hammer), as well as prisoners, convicted criminal, Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and Indian, Tonto (Johnny Depp). Cavendish escapes in what appears to be a set up, which leads to a man hunt by John's brother, Dan (James Badge Dale) and the deaths of all the search party at the hands of a traitor. In a strange turn of events, John starts working with Tonto and finds out more than he would have liked to have known about the dealings of the white people with the Indians of the land.

Based on an American legend, The Lone Ranger is all just a bit silly. It is so over the top and cliché in it's execution and there is really nothing you can take seriously about it. The romance aspect of the film adds nothing to the story and really could have been cut out of the film entirely, which would have shortened it's 149 minute running time. The idea of having an elderly Tonto tell a young boy at a San Francisco fairground the story is also completely useless and the film would have flowed a lot better if it was told in real time rather than a series of flashbacks. Therefore, it is the screenplay, written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, that is one of the key factors in what fails to make this film a Disney classic. The story itself isn't too bad as it does have some unpredictable revelations, but the screenplay tries to do a little too much.

As it is promoted, The Lone Ranger is from the same people who have brought us Pirates Of The Caribbean. So what a lot of people are saying and quite rightly so is that this is a western version of Pirates Of The Caribbean. Chances are if you weren't a fan of those swash-buckling films, you won't be a fan of this film. Johnny Depp's Tonto is a native American version of Captain Jack Sparrow and the choreography of the action scenes is also very similar. The good thing is that if you are one of those people who did love the Pirates films, then you may be a fan.

However, the good news is that with all it's faults, The Lone Ranger is at least entertaining. The best part of the film is the last half an hour which is almost like a cleverly composed dance number set in the west. The musical score is almost strangely selected, but does serve its purpose by setting the scene and creating a feeling of suspense and excitement. A great film needs to be this the whole way through, but the last 30 minutes is worth watching the whole film for.

Johnny Depp has always been the actor who loves to perform "different" roles and has made different his norm. He may not be the best native American ever on screen, but he still pulls off the role believably enough. He is also, of course, entertaining as we all know Depp to be. Armie Hammer does fine as John Reid, but it is arguably not a very hard role to play and does not require too much emotion. Helena Bonham Carter's character is not particularly needed in the film, but she is always a treat on screen. Ruth Wilson is another who's character as Reid's sister in-law/ romantic interest is not particularly needed and not a particularly exciting character on screen.

The Lone Ranger perhaps doesn't need to be accused of being as big a disaster as it is being made out to be, but it is not a Disney classic. Just a splash of entertainment for the here and now.


You may have also seen Johnny Depp in......
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as Captain Jack Sparrow
Alice In Wonderland as The Mad Hatter

You may have also seen Armie Hammer in.....
The Social Network as Cameron Winklevoss/ Tyler Winklevoss

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rising Star: Zoey Deutch

It's official! Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters is currently in production!

For those who are not familiar with the book series written by Richelle mead, Vampire Academy is not your typical vampire story. We're not talking a typical Twilight style, young adult romance here. Think more along the lines of Harry Potter meets Underworld. Yes, there is a splash of romance here, but teenage angst is far removed from the picture. The lead character, Rose Hathaway is one tough cookie and as a Dhampir, she is a bodyguard to her best friend, Lissa who is a vampire princess. Rose, as opposed to many other female leads in YA romance these days, is the one young girls should be looking up to. She is the one who puts herself between her best friend and danger and never backs down from what she believes in.

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters currently has a 14th February 2014 release date in place (subject to change). Mark Waters, of Mean Girls, Mr Popper's Penguins and Freaky Friday fame, is directing the film and an impressive cast has been assembled including Gabriel Byrne, Olga Kurylenko, Joely Richardson and Sarah Myland. The lucky girls who have landed the roles themselves the lead roles are Lucy Fry, who is to play Lissa, and Zoey Deutch, who is Rose Hathaway.

So in preparation for Vampire Academy, Zoey Deutch is our Rising Star for July 2013.

Deutch is no stranger to show business and acting runs in her blood, as she is the daughter of actress, Lea Thompson and director, Howard Deutch. Born in Los Angeles, California on the 10th of November 1994, she studied dancing from a young age and attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts with a double major in Theater and Visual Arts.

Her break came when she appeared in "The Suite Life On Deck" in 2010 and became an instant Disney channel favourite as Maya Bennett. She made her film debut at age 16 when she played her real life mother's daughter in Mayor Cupcake. She also has had small roles in "NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigation Service", "Criminal Minds" and had an ongoing role as Juliet Martin in "Ringer" alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar).

Most recently, many people will remember Deutch from the 2013 film, Beautiful Creatures where she played Emily Asher, the most popular girl in school at Gaitlin. Deutch was a joy to watch in Beautiful Creatures, and over-shadowed many of her co-stars when on screen with her Christian morals conflicting her jealousy of the new girl, making her a very interesting character to watch.

Deutch is currently in the United Kingdom filming Vampire Academy, but when she is at home in the states, she is an active supporter of many charities including the Corazon De Vida Orphanage in Tijuana and The Alzheimer's Association. Her greatest love is her cat named Stinky Pete, who is outnumbered by having six dogs, as well as an African Grey parrot, several horse and a pond of fish to share his space with!

 Check out this interview with Zoey Deutch and her Beautiful Creatures co-star, Thomas Mann.

We wish Zoey the best of luck and we can't wait to see her in Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters!

The Internet Movie Database
Zoey Deutch Online
The Official Website Of Vampire Academy
Zoey's Official Facebook Page