Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Raid 2:Berandal - Phil's Five Words for Films

The Raid 2:Berandal (Indonesian with subtitles) It is said that 'sometimes, less is more'. In the case of 'The Raid2', more is definitely less. For me, the beauty of the first film (review here) was in its rawness. The room by room, floor by floor, single focus of its mission, the pin-point accuracy of the choreography and the up-close snapping of the fight scenes. The second film begins almost exactly where the first ended and is straight back in to that breathless, bloody style that gained director, Gareth Evans many plaudits after the first film. Iko Uwais returns as Rama, the rookie Jakarta cop and he hits the dizzy speeds that were so impressive in his

Monday, 3 November 2014

What We Did On Our Holiday - Phil's Five Words for Films

What We Did On Our Holiday  Created by Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkin, this is essentially a big screen version of their BBC hit 'Outnumbered' (but in conjunction with the British Guild of Comedy Actors and the Scottish Tourist Board, maybe). Different parents, different children but the same, nicely observed comedic overtones. Starring  Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller and Celia Imrie amongst others, it is a pleasant enough, good natured film that hits the modest targets that it sets itself. The story is centred around Doug (Tennant) and Abi ( Pike), who are in the throws of a separation. Together with their three kids, they travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug's father's 75th birthday party. The father, Gordy ( Billy Connolly, in contemplative form ), has a terminal disease that he wants kept from his grand children. It seems everyone is trying to keep up appearances and secrets. Farcically, nobody manages. As with 'Outnumbered', the script seems to be there mainly for the adults, allowing the children to freely riff around certain topics - the source of most of the comedy. There is just enough laughter and pathos to make it an enjoyable watch, without drifting in to uncomfortable sentimentality. It feels more like 'big TV' than 'small film' but that doesn't mean that it can't be satisfying. The Scottish scenery and all those involved come out looking good and I would have happily watched more. A quintessentially British, pleasant and gentle comedy/drama that has some genuinely touching moments.

7 out of 10.
Cert 12A ( UK )
95mins. 2014

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Philomena - Phil's Five Words for Films

Philomena is the true story of one lady's fifty year struggle to find her son, who was forcibly stolen from her when she was a very young woman. ( Based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith). Following a teenage fling with a young man in a local fairground, Philomena ( Dench ) was forced to give up her baby boy for adoption by the Catholic nuns with whom she was forced to live and work. They also convinced (!) her of the shame she should feel at being an unmarried mother and that the child trafficking was part of her religious duty. On the boy's 50th birthday, Philomena breaks the tragic news to her daughter and together they make contact with Martin Sixsmith ( Coogan ), a BBC correspondent, to ask him

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Safety Not Guaranteed - Phil's Five Words for Films

Safety Not Guaranteed After the discovery of an unusual newspaper advert for '..somebody to go back in time with me..',  a Seattle journalist and two interns embark on a trip to investigate any possible story. What they find is a quirky and paranoid supermarket attendant who claims that he is planning a trip through time to rediscover a previous love. He claims that he has built a time machine, is being followed by Special Agents and needs to train an accomplice for the journey. As the details unfold, it seems that there is more to his story than meets the eye. Mark Duplass plays Kenneth, the eccentric time traveller and he has the strongest of the roles, giving the character real depth and a crazy believability. Aubrey Plaza ( Parks & Recreation ), Jake Johnson ( New Girl, 21JumpSt ) and Karan Soni all put in solid performances as the investigators, all of whom have their own baggage to bring to the story. It is the chemistry between Kenneth and Darius ( Plaza ) that really drives the film forward and their weird relationship is a joy to watch. The highlight of which is a 'Zither solo' - something that doesn't happen in films very often. From the

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Blue is the Warmest Colour - Phil's Five Words for Films

Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adele) French with subtitles. Telling the story of a young French girl and her journey of discovery through adolescence, love and her same sex relationship, this film has attracted a lot of controversy and a Palme d'Or at Cannes 2013. It is easy to see why. The acting is spellbinding, Adele Exarchopoulos ( Adele ) and Lea Seydoux ( Emma ) are both intensely believable as the young lovers and the director, Abdel Kechiche has created an emotional, in depth study of their story, whilst being accused of pushing the actors beyond boundaries. ( more here )  The directorial style is one of concentration and visceral close-up, focusing on all aspects of the characters facial features, particularly their mouths. Talking, smoking, kissing and eating - all seen through the lens of intimacy. The sex scenes ( cert 18 ) are intense, extended, messy and real, again pushing the boundaries of decency in to voyeurism and pornography. All of which has the effect of leaving you feeling the awkwardness of the blossoming relationship. You won't see such

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Nebraska - Phil's Five Words for Films

Nebraska Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk star in this slow paced road trip film that explores ageing, relationships and life's aspirations. Filmed entirely in black & white, the cinematography is beautiful and expansive, showing the vast emptiness and claustrophobia of Nebraska's wide open spaces. Directed by Alexander Payne ( Sideways 2004, About Schmidt 2002, The Descendants 2011 ) it tells the story of an old man called Woody Grant ( Dern ), in failing health who is determined to travel across state to claim, what he thinks is, his million dollar prize from a local marketing campaign. After several failed attempts to walk the route, he is finally joined on trip by his son ( Forte ) who just wants to help and understand his father's obsession. The trip takes in Woody's home town and he re-visits family & friends and reflects on his past. Once word gets around

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Lone Survivor - Phil's Five Words for Films

Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg as one of four Navy SEALs on a secret mission to hunt down and kill a Taliban leader in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Also starring Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster it is as brutal and uncompromising as its setting and title suggests. The main body of the film is centred around a fire-fight with enemy soldiers after the SEALs are ambushed and is extremely in your face. The battle scenes are up-close, loud and crunching - the stunt work, battle-injury

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street - Phil's Five Words for Films

The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio both work really hard to bring their best to the party for this 3 hour epic based on the life/memoirs of Jordon Belfort, a stockbroker who wormed his way to a personal fortune and a reputation for corruption and decadence during the 80s and 90s. Scorsese brings all his usual style to a film that seems to celebrate the excesses of the period and DiCaprio enjoys throwing

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

You're Next - Phil's Five Words for Films

You're Next When the Davison family descend on their secluded, country manner to celebrate the parent's wedding anniversary, they are in for a rotten weekend. One by one ( and in an entirely predictable order ) they are picked off by a group of mask wearing home invaders who have already taken care of the neighbours. Nobody, however, counted on there being a battling uber-aussie, Erin ( Sharni Vinson ), meeting the 'In-Laws' for the first time. Can she protect her new extended family and get them out alive? 'You're Next' is a straight up and down 'who-done-the-slashing-and-invading' movie, nothing really original or clever

Monday, 21 April 2014

Gravity - Phil's Five Words for Films

Gravity  Every now and then, a film comes along that raises the bar. 'Gravity' is that film. The special effects really are something special. It looks beautiful and the 3D version is full of depth, 'space' being the ideal setting. For me, there are a few issues with the story and characters but the spectacle more than outweighs the problems. As good as Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were, I thought their parts could have been played by any old person. George Clooney's impression of 'Buzz Lightyear' even detracted from some scenes and some of his 'actions' seemed out of character. ( email me for details!) Couple this with the fact that Sandra Bullock's character seemed to have had two days training before going on a space mission, ( manuals?), it left me feeling that there were a few holes in the film.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dallas Buyer's Club - Phil's Five Words for Films

Dallas Buyer's Club In my opinion, Matthew McConaughey has been shuffling towards an Oscar winning performance for the last few years and, following his role as a rodeo cowboy, given a month to live after being diagnosed with HIV, he has finally grabbed one. McConaughey reportedly lost over 40 pounds to play the role and the result is instantly shocking. Set in the early 1980's and based on the real-life story of Ron Woodroof who smuggled unlicensed drugs from Mexico to Texas to treat his condition, McConaughey is mesmerising. Between him and Jared Leto, who plays a fellow sufferer and cross-dressing

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Oscar Shouts - Phil's Five Words for Films

Ok, so plenty of people have been asking me what I think will win or should win awards at this year's Oscar Ceremony. Here is a list of my thoughts.

Best Film - 12 Years a Slave
Best Director - Alfonso CuarĂ³n - Gravity
Best Actor - Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Actress - Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto - Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Supporting Actress -Lupita Nyong’o - 12 Years a Slave

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Purge - Phil's Five Words for Films

The Purge Sometimes, an interesting idea is just not enough on which to base an entire film. In the near future, American society has spiralled to the point where all crime is legal for one day a year. This government sanctioned killing spree is supposed to rid the society of it's undesirables whilst the 'good/rich  people' lock themselves in to their heavily fortified houses. Not a bad starting point. Unfortunately, the idea is very quickly undermined and it soon turns in to a limp, lacklustre film that thinks it has something to say. Never tense, with nothing particularly scary to deal with, it doesn't manage to raise itself above the level of a violent 'Twilight Zone' episode, sponsored

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Searching for Sugar Man - Phil's Five Words for Films

Searching for Sugar Man I love good films and I love good music. So it will come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed a good documentary about a good music story. In the late 1960's, a singer-songwriter known as Rodriguez was discovered in a Detroit nightclub, creating music that many thought would make him a superstar. A Latino Dylan. After recording 2 albums with leading music producers, the sales didn't match the enthusiasm and soon, rumours of his on-stage death began to spread. Meanwhile, in South Africa, the albums began the 1970's by selling in their millions and slowly fixed themselves in to the national psyche and a move towards political freedom. News of the success just didn't

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sharknado - Phil's Five Words for Films

Sharknado Sometimes a film can be so ridiculously ludicrous that it just grabs you by the funny bone and it transcends all logic and defies all the usual rules. Sharknado is definitely one of those films. A super storm heads towards the west coast of America, pulling sharks from the ocean and dumping thousands of them on the unprepared citizens of coastal L.A. Every part of the film is awful. The premise, the script, the editing, the acting, the special effects, the science, the physics and even the laws of gravity are all terrible, so terrible that they are laughable. Therein lies the unintended brilliance. At no point

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Now You See Me - Phil's Five Words for Films

Now You See Me A triumph of spectacle over substance, this film is as hyperactive as it is over- ambitious. There's lots going on and plenty of star attractions to keep you watching but ultimately, too much time is spent trying to be cool and not enough trying to be credible. Watching the film requires a willing suspension of disbelief far beyond the acceptable for a serious film and even then, it falls a little flat at the overblown finale. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson,  Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Free