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Mr. A. J. Richards "yourbiteall" (Weston Super Mare)

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Frances Ha [DVD]
Frances Ha [DVD]
Dvd ~ Greta Gerwig
Price: £4.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Ahoy Sexy, 11 April 2014
This review is from: Frances Ha [DVD] (DVD)
Greta Garwig is a unique, kooky young actress who oozes so much dedication to her role here, it is more than admirable and there are shades of classic French cinema and the aroma of Woody Allen in the way the film is created. Unfortunately Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach's latest free flowing dramedy is too smart, too quirky and too scatter-shot in it's editing and starts irksome and remains irritating through-out.
It feels like Footloose at times or some kind of 'Miranda' type sketch show at others and although relatable in parts with its flights of fancy conflicting with real world scenarios it feels like a very festival steeped experiment with all the Indie cliches attached.
Sweet and uncynical with a lead performance of some substance and inquisitiveness Frances Ha is an acquired taste which have respect for but ultimately failed to engage with. I can see a niche market for it though and interested to see what Garwig does next.
Perhaps i need to to be more in touch with my feminine side or perhaps I would just recommend something like Garden State or Clerks. Yeah, probably the former.
Just because a film doesn't bow down to genre conventions doesn't mean its infallible. Noah Baumbach take note!

Short Term 12 [DVD]
Short Term 12 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brie Larson
Price: £11.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Method to the Madness, 8 April 2014
This review is from: Short Term 12 [DVD] (DVD)
Being a support-worker myself i was highly intrigued to see this film by debutante Destin Cretton based on a short feature of his from a few years before. It is an insightful, often moving portrayal of not only the internal struggles of a care-centre(halfway house) but the emotional strains of the carers themselves played by an array of young talent. So kudos to the casting agent.
There is a hard hitting message about the ethics that we apply when making decisions and battling those against the everyday pragmatism and duties we face. Hard subjects are broached and the therapy side of it isn't always tackled but the film shows a poignancy that delivers answers, not always easy, but i believe that no matter what destructive force is at play, just like the movie is portraying we can all come to a resolution or method to the issues at hand.
Brie Larson as Grace is an absolute revelation. Damaged, flawed, angelic and dynamic. At times a role model(one i would still look up to) at other times bringing empathy not only to those in need but to any audience who has worked in the world of care. Not only is Grace’s(Larson) character extremely well-rounded and a window into not only someone who wants to help but someone who is at pain too, most, if not all, of the supporting characters are as well, which is rare for a novice writer.
We are dealing with some deep issues here. The children have a range of experiences from exposure to drug use to physical abuse, not to mention the ardent stress that is simply implied by their current condition. This could, with little effort, fall into the realm of films that are nearly tortuous to endure. Thankfully it does not.
Some may argue corners are cut, or CQC would have a field day at some of the more dubious events that take place and to be honest the sub-plot involving the abusive father does take a turn into some kind of contrived thriller but Short Term 12 is at heart, a cinematic reflection of a reality that is as unpredictable as nature intended it to be. And in this cynical, critical world..thats quite an achievment.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [DVD]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Evans
Price: £14.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If the Cap fits, 7 April 2014
After the lackluster and uninspired first Captain America adventure, not to mention my own mini-anxieties surrounding these comic-book adaptations, I really was not expecting much from The Winter Soldier.(often the best way to head into a movie anyway)
How delighted then to come out of the cinema with more than a satisfied grin plastered on my face. Its a big call but this Captain America is most likely the best of the Marvel films yet.
This Steve Rogers(Cap) has a new world to experiment with and the film finds balance (not quite as superficially as you would think) between his struggle between doing the 'right' thing and his political beliefs and notions. It also might help him to listen to Nirvana and watch The Empire Strikes Back. Theres much research to be done, especially after the events after The Avengers, but again Cap is thrown into an unprecedented situation.
Action set pieces are tight and well choreographed with some innovative fights, not to mention one spectacularly intense scene involving Nick Fury(Sam Jackson) and his accessorized heavy vehicle.
This is bone on bone and you can hear every crushing detail, and despite a flurry of CGI towards the end, a lot of it is of the practical variety. As an action heavy thriller it really is cracking stuff and plays out like a hybrid of The Fugitive meets Mission Impossible 3.
I expect great things from the Russo brothers, the directors and they hopefully will helm more action films in the future.
Robert Redford is a nice touch and brings a shady, 1970's conspiracy vibe, Scarlett Johansson seems to deliver her lines wonderfully and kicks butt with the rest of them and Mackies The Falcon is given a decent back story where i couldn't help thinking it was his The Hurt Locker character somehow transcended into this film.
There is some cookie cutter stuff at times with the dialogue and a cliched reveal that smelt of the film makers wimping out for the sake of audiences rejoicing in such conspicuous fanfare but all in all this is a very surprising and engaging film that serves the cannon of Marvel very well indeed. Now, where to purchase one of those shields!

The Counsellor [DVD]
The Counsellor [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Price: £10.00

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Automoblies need love too, 30 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Counsellor [DVD] (DVD)
What happens if your a cheetah? Why has Bardem got a hedgehog on his head? Who is doing which deal with which group? Is it possible to have sexual shenanigans with an automobile?
These are some of the questions you may ask yourself after or during watching this undeniable mess of a movie. Its that feeling you get going past the scene of an accident and even though you shouldn't you cant help but take a peek.
Ridley Scott has really dropped the ball of late, ok so Prometheus wasn't all baloney but it was not the epic it should have been. And now this catastrophe really means the Blade Runner director has a lot of redeeming to do.
Where the Coen brothers were able to translate Cormac McCarthy's script for No Country for Old Men, Scott fails to put poetry in motion here and is also undermined by a cast of characters who inspire little human feeling. There is way too much perplexing speech from everyone concerned and it all gets bogged down in its own anachronism and pretentiousness. Shame then, as some of the visual set pieces on show are shot with a shocking, palpable sense of unease and dread. One stand out scene involving a Saw like contraption is quite frightening and striking.
The real tragedy with this is the level of ability that has been wasted on such a trivial piece of work. We wont be scared by its presence enough for a trip to the couch but we will know never to go back to another Ridley Scott film until he changes his ways.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [DVD] [2013]
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lawrence
Price: £10.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Frustration Games, 19 Mar 2014
If the first Hunger Games set up the initial characters and story arcs to come this committed and courageous, if somewhat insipid sequel keeps tone and pace and moves the narrative forward to new and interesting places. Its a shame then for all its vigor that it just falls by the wayside thanks to its stunted direction and commercial stipulations.
Its subversive seeds set in the first film are laid rooted here springing up in awe inspiring ways throughout the films first hour but a re-run of the games come the end including some stinky red-herrings and twits that do not add to the plots political slant whiff of hypocrisy..but then thats all the government has ever been anyway..whatever year it is, right?
The film is bolstered by a strong cast. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman cast in a weird 'Ed Harris from Truman Show' kind of Games-master.Jennifer Lawrence is once again an engaging lead, and the Katniss character is developed in more interesting ways. Once a simple girl, she must now deal with crippling post-traumatic stress, the media spotlight and manage an emotionally clumsy and strained relationship with Peeta. In fact, the “victory tour” that comprises much of the first half ends up being the film’s most unique aspect. It’s fascinating to see the lead characters struggle to maintain their fake public personas, whilst the antagonists discuss the games as a means to control the masses and contemplate how to manipulate the tributes to their gain.
Despite its brave attempts at going all totalitarian and dystopian in its themes and that being portrayed well early the end you have to feel that this kind of system is not believable enough. i go to the movies to escape..but not to become caught up in a world that isn't believable. There are many plot holes but the lovers will just argue that its all suppose to be so entertaining. thats fine. i do not want to deprive anyone of that experience. It is a tepid Battle Royale/The Running Man hybrid..and thats also fine.
I have to get use to these executive led, teeny novel, 12A manipulative films these days as they come thick and fast. Its worth watching but i don't think it will trouble my best films of the year. In a way the 3 stars alone belong to Jennifer Lawrence, praise indeed worthy of the hype.

Nymphomaniac Vol. I & Vol. II (2 Disc DVD)
Nymphomaniac Vol. I & Vol. II (2 Disc DVD)
Dvd ~ Charlotte Gainsbourg
Price: £14.00

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Desire, 7 Mar 2014
Lars Von Trier! A name among the film world that is held in awe, in wonder and sometimes in pure outrage and disgust. I have not seen all his back catalogue (fellow film fans frequently tell me i must watch Dancer in the Dark) but from what i have seen i can tell Von Trier is a very passionate, creative film-maker who i don't think cares what people think of him. His self righteous, controversial views have over flowed into his films before. The Idiots and Dogville being utterly devoid of any redeeming features and just beyond me in terms of structure and thesis. Melancholia had decent performances but did labor and I always found Antic-Christ highly intriguing and quite creepy in places but i think Nymphomaniac is his most assured work to date.
Divided into two volumes of roughly two hours each, the tormentingly titled Nymphomaniac tells the story of the troubled, bruised and stricken Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she describes it to soft philosopher Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), who rescued her after finding her blacked out in an alley. The first part indulges Joe's childhood and youthful erotic experiences with charming, witty verve, before descending into darker, more painful territory in the second part as Joe's desires come up against the overpowering pressures and constraining necessities of adult nature.
Listening to the stories throughout, and allowing occasional variations of his own, Seligman is the perfect confessor; a middle-aged virgin whose life has been lived through the words of others. Firstly, there are some incredibly controversial moments, but, coming after the relaxing of the way films are censored in the UK, are not as outrageous as one would imagine. Erections, genitalia close-ups and real sex have all lost their long held taboo milestone in the movies; although it is still only 'art house' films that tend to get away with them.The scene involving Uma Thurman as the aggrieved wife of one of Stacey Martin's character (the young Joe) lovers is probably where the film is at its weirdest but even this lends itself to the realities of a world far from Triers mind games. Stacey Martinis heavenly in her role and her learning curve is expertly handled and crafted.
Supported by other intense, in turns courageous and uproarious performances, as well as a soundtrack that includes diverse stuff from Rammstein to Beethoven, in keeping with the film's free, candid spirit, Nymphomaniac is a stimulating tour de force that takes in the whole of the singular human experience, including the body and the mind, sex and love, art and life, and all of the complicated and wonderful connections between them. Overwhelming, energising and exhilarating, Nymphomaniac is a brave film made by a man with a generous lust for life in all its cruelty, eccentricity and outrageousness.
The misogyny(that some people are suggesting) is misguided, i can show you many films more misogynistic than this. most 12a's these days have needless titillation in for a start. After all; this is seen though a woman's eyes and there is enough tenderness if you dig deep to counteract any feeling of hatred toward the films harsher moments.
So much to take in, it is not for mainstream audiences but it has meaning behind it and with Shia Labeouf's chagrin and silly accent, Slater's dirty posterior among other moments of zaniness, its also viewed as a dark comedy. As the Americans might put it, maybe even Von Trier might describe it..It isn't a film that you can jerk off to(not that i tried). Its not as transparent as the explicit flesh that is on show would have you believe!

Non-Stop [DVD] [2014]
Non-Stop [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: £14.00

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Turbulence, 6 Mar 2014
This review is from: Non-Stop [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Liam Neeson has punched and fought his way through kidnappers, he has punched his way through packs of wolves and now hes doing it all over again in director of Unknown new film(another Neeson starrer), Non-Stop. Hes good at playing a new action star for a new generation but i fear unless he changes it up a bit he will become a parody of himself...and we really do not want that to happen.
Non Stop fits into a nice little box labeled nonsensical brainless fare for a Saturday night with a subheading suggesting 'when there is nothing else to do except cut your toenails' It really is throw away silliness and if it wasn't for one or two nifty intuitive scenes and a pace that doesn't ever let up, i would probably score this lower. the sheer adrenaline and efficiency of the piece carries it through to the films ridiculous conclusion.
Neeson plays Air Marshall Bill Marks, the kind of underdog, washed-up alcoholic who inhabits Joel Silver movies. On a flight to London, Marks starts getting texts from a mysterious person. The texts claim a murder will happen on the plane every 20 minutes unless $150 million is wired to an offshore account. Marks discovers that the texts…well i will not spoil the fun. there is some to be had and thats great as i never became bored. what was i expecting you may ask. Just something resembling a script without giant plot holes and less leaps into th realms of implausibility.
Lots of suspenseful happenings ensue. I use the word "suspenseful" for good reason, because this movie has exactly that. Non-Stop does a noble job instilling tension in its first 30 minutes culminating in a fantastic, innovative fight scene in a very small spacious bathroom, always leaving you guessing throughout. You never feel at ease throughout the movie, and the movie does well capitalizing on that. its a shame then that it all falls apart spectacularly. n a way you become captive to its ridiclousness but this viewer is left unimpressed by the final credits.
The films poor dialogue isn't really the problem as there are some classic breezy catch phrases going on here that are rather funny. Lupita Nyongo'o, free from slavery but not free from invisibility it would appear (be gentle with me) is extremely wasted and there is some dubious acting amongst the rest of the supporting cast including a 'phone it in' performance from Julianne Moore.
And before everyone has a go at me for 'not understanding the fun of it' there are far worse films out there of its genre but all its predecessors that are the daddy of this type of action spectacular still retain their thrones. As soon as the overly far fetched third act came in to play I just wanted the plane to crash and Liam to punch some wolves again..and eat his own foot!

Her [DVD]
Her [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joaquin Phoenix

4.0 out of 5 stars Computer Love, 3 Mar 2014
This review is from: Her [DVD] (DVD)
I know there are certain elements from other films in any particular one movie but Her is a bit of a smorgasbord of a film that borrows heavily, in its themes at least, with the 2007 gem Lars and the Real Girl. Eccentric, aloof and at odds with the world personalities who build relationships up with the unorthodox and artificial only to be tested further in their introspective challenges throughout their lives until said conclusions. This (i'm pretty sure unintentional) cloning in its story telling is what slightly hampers what is a strikingly retro, endearing and prescient film that touches on some eerie questions evoking classic sci-fi.
Jonze's has never been the conventional guru as we've seen in his other intelligent enterprises "Being John Malkovich" and "Where the Wild Things Are." Jonze sets out to tell a narrative and deliver all the mysterious details for us to believe each character. His focus on Theodore, giving him a real sense of loneliness without falling into cliché character ticks and beats that we've seen countless times in other romantic films, Jonze constructs a real man living in a world where technology has taken harbinger over human connection.
Phoenix is suitably quirky and gives his character a dollop of everyday guy amongst all his geeky layerings (though perhaps a little bit too much like that dude from Big Bang Theory) he seems always vulnerable and with all the futuristic technological achievements going on around him the film is at once profound and whimsy and yet foreboding and intimidating. For me though, the performance of the film was not even visible, but only heard. Scarlett Johanssen gives us a unique performance as the thoroughly enthralling and sensual voice of Samantha. All those cute ways and infectious laughter carries Samantha to life. A film like this will only work if we believe that a man can actually fall in love with Samantha. The way Scarlett breathes vitality into Samantha, we do.
It becomes so introspective,delicate, dreamy and predictable that you almost get sucked into a kind of lull and Jonze has a habit of making his characters unsympathetic but there is no fighting with its essence of love and longing no matter how clever and beautiful it thinks it is. Now..I'm off to town to purchase one of these fancy new systems!

Robocop [DVD] [2014]
Robocop [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Joel Kinnaman
Price: £13.00

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oldman gives this lacklustre if brave attempt some heart., 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: Robocop [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
The well known title is the same, some of the famous quips are present, hell even the ED209s make an appearance but this Robocop is a different beast(or should that be cyborg) than the 1987 version.
Jose Padilha in his English language debut as director, has the difficult task like all persons taking on the mammoth task of rebooting a franchise, in restoring our faith that 'this remake will be worthy'. There is some mindless fun to be had and some tough questions are asked but ultimately Robocop misses the mark.
At its heart the original Robocop was an allegory about a man rediscovering his identity. However, this new rendition chooses to abandon this central theme – due to Murphy's memory remaining complete throughout. Instead the story is more about his battle to overpower his programming, and overcome the changes which he has been forced to endure (although he does so through a somewhat implausible process during the second act). While this element was always present previously, the films decision to dwell on it exclusively meant that the most interesting aspects of the human drama were lost. The film is given the merest glimpes of greatness with the great pathos oozing from Oldmans performance(the spine and heartbeat of the movie, and a brave performance from Kinnaman as our hero cop, the film would become completely redundant without these two redeeming factors.
I know many that will hate this film and tell me why its nothing like the original(and i would completely understand that viewpoint)..but despite all its frustrating flaws it is a vision that has to be given at least one star for effort, one star for the cool effects, thought provoking opening and great suit design and one star entirely devoted to Oldman. Though it does have the potential on a second and third viewing to lose my intrigue enough to deem my rating obsolete. Dead or alive..I am giving it three.

Philomena [DVD]
Philomena [DVD]
Dvd ~ Judi Dench
Price: £10.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pint of Guiness, 11 Feb 2014
This review is from: Philomena [DVD] (DVD)
A film like Philomena comes along all too infrequently. That wonderful hybrid of quality drama, subtle, well-balanced acting and a sprinkling of welcome humor. Not to mention it all hung together around a meaningful and interesting subject matter.
Based on the true story of Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman who became pregnant as a teenager and had her child taken away from her by the Catholic Church and sold for adoption it truly is not just a fine piece of work from a idiosyncratic director but an example to all about how to make dramatic cinema. Its also a a high watermark in terms of its tear jerkiness. very seldom do you see a sentimental film full of appropriate humor and a lack of tacked on manipulated mawkishness. Take note War Horse, Les Mis, The Impossible and company.
I have never been a huge fan of Dench but here she gives the performance of a lifetime(wrinkles have never looked so engaging) backed up wonderfully by Coogan who is mildly eccentric and tempered but deeply moved all at the same time. My only concern would be the glaring convenience that pops up half way through but Frears keeps things so tightly wound that you feel completely tolerant of it straight away.
The movie has received some rare bashings by some critics who argue its intentions regarding its take on the Catholic religion. I say what goes around comes around and this deserves to be seen by everyone with a keen interest in, well, human interest stories.

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