The Grinch Review

It was with some trepidation

that I approached the latest offering from Illumination

(Those who unleashed those infernal minions upon every poor, blighted nation)

mediocrity is their stock in trade

so, through that is what I expected to wade.

“But”, said a voice inside my head

Your optimism should not need to be be dead.

After all, this film should be a sinch

pretty much everyone knows the story of The Grinch

It’s been made as a film twice before

and only one of those was a colossal bore

starring an unleashed Jim Carrey

and Who’s that veered between creepy and scary.

It was dull and grimy, padded to no end

and watching it again almost sent me around the bend.

But this is new and shiny and nice.

It’s also in 3d which for someone, somewhere is nice.

It stars Sherlock Holmes, Angela Lansbury and more.

wanting trained voice actors? What a bore!

And stepping into the role of narrator,

played by Boris karloff and Hannibal Lector, who could be greater

Than Pharrell Williams (who made that song happy)

Although as narator he’s really quite sappy.

Giving Danny Elfman the score is a decision I adore

but getting someone called Tyler, the Creator to make a Grinchy rap song?

Whoever decided that will have a career that’s not long.

And who the hell decided to put in the Christmas rap from Die Hard?

I have questions which I don’t know I want answered.

But leaving weird, random music choices aside,

there’s some stuff here of which illumination could almost feel pride.

At 86 minutes, the run-time is nearly perfect.

So that box is most defiantly checked.

It’s so bright and breezy,

that I don’t feel uneasy

about saying that a few times I chuckled

but at times my cheer buckled

because at points my own heart grew at least a half size!

The key stories still there

so please don’t despair

when the film takes a quick detour

Because what little this film adds means more

than the Carrey version did before.

And with a run-time far less than that 106 minute bore.

{Doing this review in rhyme

seemed like such a good idea at the time

still, it won’t be the first that a pub was the start point for a crime)

So i’m told anyway.

But if dragged to this film don’t pray.

There are far worse ways to spend part of the day.

It’s animation is fluid, no moment was bad,

The heart wringing moments made me feel sad.

I laughed at it’s jokes

and it never provokes

any rude or crude moments as it’s rating is U!

The perfect rating for a film by Dr Seuss it’s true.

So as I come to my end,

this film will not drive you round the bend.

On the 1966 original it’s not a patch.

but as a cash-grab it’s not that much of a snatch.

Illumination you’ve done it again!

90 minutes of beige to keep the kids quiet

so if you want to prevent a riot

There’s worse you could see

but take it from me

it has no plans to stay long in your head

And you’ll forget it’s small charms before you lay down in bed.

My Score – If Nothing Else

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This Is No Laughing Matter

Maybe it’s time that we admitted that we aren’t terribly good at this democracy malarkey? I mean, as a nation we’ve never been entirely comfortable with it. We do have an elected house of commons but it’s ‘assisted’ by Sir Humphrey Appleby and then overseen by the un-elected House of Lords and then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Thus making sure that the grubby working class can’t spoil a good thing.

We’ve had hints of this before, there was the inexplicable success of Simon Cowell, the never ending succession of low grade reality TV shows where you can ‘vote to save your favorite’ Z-lister from eviction. And, as seen above- this is the type of democracy that the British understand.

Because, well, when the British public is trusted to actually do something that matters- they tend to blow it rather amazingly. And we got more proof of this theory today.

Backstory

The Radio Times is a magazine that does TV listings and as such is mostly read by my Nan. And for reasons known best to itself decided to do a poll of the British best sitcom of the 21st century. 14’000 people voted and the one that they picked as a winner? Oh boy.

To say that Mrs. Browns Boys is disliked by critics is to under-estimate the loathing that it generates. With one critic describing it as “the worst comedy ever made.” And that’s one of the few quotes that I can put here. I was made to endure about 5 minutes of it once and I laughed more the last time my girlfriend told me that “We need to talk.”

But on the other hand, there wasn’t a whole lot of other comedies on the list that have me splitting my sides. What Miranda (Number 8) is doing being described as a comedy has always alluded me.

But as my jaded eye scanned the list, I became aware of how poor most of the offerings were. Last millennium we offered the world Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Only Fools And Horses and the greatest political satire ever- Yes Minister/ Yes Prime Minister. 

And in this new Millenium, the best we have to offer is a man in drag, pretending that his wife is his daughter and without enough professionalism to do another take when things go wrong. It inevitable got a movie which was slaughtered by critics but did well enough to generate sequel hype. Happily though, Brexit has put a stop to this nonsense.

Still, at least it kept the inexplicably popular Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ The Office off of the top spot.

But what do you guys think?

 

The top 20 comedies

1 – Mrs Brown’s Boys, BBC One (started 2011)

2 – The Office, BBC Two (2001)

3 – Peter Kay’s Car Share, BBC One (2015)

4 – Count Arthur Strong, BBC Two (2013)

5 – The IT Crowd, C4 (2006)

6 – The Thick Of It, BBC Four (2005)

7 – Gavin & Stacey, BBC Three (2007)

8 – Miranda, BBC Two (2009)

9 – Raised By Wolves, C4 (2015)

10 – Outnumbered, BBC One (2007)

11 – Peep Show, C4 (2003)

12 – Black Books, C4 (2000)

13 – Green Wing, C4 (2003)

14 – The Inbetweeners, C4 (2008)

15 – Bad Education, BBC Three (2012)

16 – Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, C4 (2001)

17 – Yonderland, Sky1 (2013)

18 – Twenty Twelve/W1A, BBC Two (2011)

19 – Benidorm, ITV (2007)

20 – Detectorists, BBC Four (2014)

Attack in Brussels- A Response

I don’t feel like writing about films today.

I did when I got up.

When I was in the shower.

When I was brushing my teeth and having my first cup of tea.

My friend who proofreads all my articles before I hit ‘Publish’ was good to go.

And then I turned the news.

And saw what was happening in Brussels

And all of a sudden my opinion of 10 Cloverfield Lane and High Rise (which I had spent hours crafting and perfecting) seemed… irrelevant somehow.

And, as always when I see these types of events, my heart went out to the victims, and, as always, quotes from The Siege came to my mind.

Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: Come on General, you’ve lost men, I’ve lost men, but you – you, you *can’t* do this! What, what if they don’t even want the sheik, have you considered that? What if what they really want is for us to herd our children into stadiums like we’re doing? And put soldiers on the street and have Americans looking over their shoulders? Bend the law, shred the Constitution just a little bit? Because if we torture him, General, we do that and everything we have fought, and bled, and died for is over. And they’ve won. They’ve already won!

Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: [to General Devereaux during the Mexican standoff] You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to a fair trial. You have the right not to be tortured, not to be murdered, rights that you took away from Tariq Husseini. You have those rights because of the men who came before you who wore that uniform. Because of the men and women who are standing here right now waiting for you to give them the order to fire. Give them the order, General.

Elise Kraft: It’s easy to tell the difference between right and wrong. What’s hard is choosing the wrong that’s more right.

However, like a TV show I’ve seen one to many times, I know the next few scenes. Sing with me now.

Sympathy, Muslim blaming (even though terrorists are a fraction of a fraction of a %), tighter regulations, more fear, more attacks, the wheel keeps on spinning. Long after you, me, and probably even our children are cold in the grave things like this will still keep happening.

There must be a way to stop things like this from happening. From labeling all those different to us as ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’ until then, we just do what we would normally do, we go out, eat, drink, see films. Do all the things that the people attacking us don’t wan’t us to do.

Because if we give in to fear, then the attacks today were successful

If we give in to hate then the attacks today were successful

If we blame those different to us with only our prejudice as evidence then the attacks today were successful.

These were not the first attacks on an innocent city and they will not be the last but we can make them the exercise in barbaric impotence that they deserve to be treated as.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some reviews to write.

Is House of Cards Out Of Date?

I’m nearing the end of this season of House of Cards (review pending) and whilst i’m still enjoying it, it just seems a bit… tired.

I loved the first series, the way it felt like a Shakespearean tragedy with a heavy handing of black humor, it’s constant fourth-wall breaks and all round amazing acting.

And it still has all of those things, except it lost a lot of its humor and the the fourth-wall isn’t broken nearly enough for my tastes. Also, it’s beginning to feel increasingly staged and theatrical, with immaculately dressed people in bland, anonymous rooms making speeches, backstabbing, wheeling and dealing is nothing we haven’t seen them do before.

And also, in the age of Donald Trump politics, it seems, well, old fashioned. People making deals, treating each other with some degree of respect, no penis measuring contests! It feels like Downton Abbey trying it’s hand at politics.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an amazing show, with more ingenuity and style than over 99% of other offerings, but it feels like a one trick pony that keeps being asked to do it again but slightly different.

Allegedly, there are plans to make over another 10 series of this show, which I do hope is someone letting their ideas run away with them. Especially as each series allegedly costs 100 million dollars to make. (How? I have no idea. Maybe they need to keep replacing all the sets that Kevin Spacey keeps chewing through)

What do you guy think?

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Poster

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Cavill Henry Cavill
Armie Hammer Armie Hammer
Alicia Vikander Alicia Vikander
Elizabeth Debicki Elizabeth Debicki
Luca Calvani Luca Calvani
Sylvester Groth Sylvester Groth
Uncle Rudi
Hugh Grant Hugh Grant

Plot- In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Review– Remakes of 60’s TV shows tend to go in one of two ways, they can either be really good and run and run like Mission Impossible or, they go straight into IMDB’s bottom 100 and stay there like The Avengers (No, not those one’s) or The Lone Ranger.

And Man from U.N.C.L.E.? You ask? Well, it sits firmly in the middle. It’s not good, it’s not bad it just sort of… is.

This is director Guy Richies first film since the disappointing Sherlock Holmes sequel back in 2011 and it feels like hes withdrawn to the style of film that took him to the big leagues years ago. In particular Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the characters are introduced in the same way, it has similar shooting style and it even has a footballer in it. (Ten Points if you can spot legend David Beckham)

It’s also one of the coldest films I’ve seen all summer. It’s so busy looking cool and slick and chic that it forgets to have heart, soul or even a plot. There’s no suspense, the characters are SO cool that to every suggest that they might be in danger at any point is ridiculous. Apart from at the end when I think that Christopher Nolan took over for five minutes.

The problem extends to the cast as well. Every single one of them looks beautiful but none of them had anything resembling a personality except for Illya (played by Armie Hammer) who’s sole trick was that he has random psychotic episodes. Everybody else just glides around like a very pretty model and occasionaly says something “cool.”

The plot is very, very simple. An organisation (lead be a very pretty villain that could have been replaced with a stylishly dressed potted plant) has the ability to make nuclear bombs, two mismatched agents ad a girl are sent to stop them. That’s it. There is a twist or two but nothing to write home about.

And the action scenes…. what can I say about them… Well, do you remember how we all felt watching Godzilla a few years ago? Yeah, same deal. Except  instead of the scene ending, the film switches to another character having a drink, or chatting to somebody about something chic. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.

There is something in the chemistry between the two main leads and there is some sort of slick charm to this film but at a time when Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is still out? It just doesn’t measure up.

My Score- If Nothing Else 

Film Review- Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes (2015) Poster

Director- Bill Condon

Cast

Ian McKellen Ian McKellen
Milo Parker Milo Parker
Roger
Laura Linney Laura Linney
Hattie Morahan Hattie Morahan
Ann Kelmot
Patrick Kennedy Patrick Kennedy
Thomas Kelmot
Hiroyuki Sanada Hiroyuki Sanada

Plot – The story is actually set in 1947, following a long-retired Holmes living in a Sussex village with his housekeeper and rising detective son. But then he finds himself haunted by an unsolved 50-year old case. Holmes memory isn’t what it used to be, so he only remembers fragments of the case: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife

Review- Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed fictional human character in history and sometimes you do have to wonder if people will ever tire of him. It’s not likely to happen soon, but with two TV shows (Sherlock and Elementary) and various films coming out, at what point do we reach Sherlock saturation?

But that is an article for another time, this article is about Mr. Holmes, starring Sir Ian McKellen as the titular detective who  has retired to the South Downs to keep bees. His memory is not what it was and he alternates between being active and engaging and as someone who suffers from senility. McKellen in utterly convincing in the role and even manages to pull of playing him in a series of flashbacks featuring his last case (and in an utterly bizarre sub-plot) a trip to Japan.

I loved the look and feel of this film. It is beautifully shot, with a nice subtle soundtrack, special credit must go to Laura Linney as Holmes housekeeper who is trying to look after not only Holmes but her 10 year old son Roger (played by Milo Parker with a touch too much attitude for my liking.)

But I didn’t see why Sherlock Holmes was in this story. Let me explain, I am aware that this is based on the book A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin but in this film the investigation, and his trip to Japan felt to me like they could have been removed and the narrative would not have suffered.

The issue is that Laura Linney is far too good in her role.

She plays someone who is trying to be a good mother after losing her husband in the war and is trying to raise their son, she is offered a chance to work elsewhere, and aware that Holmes won’t live forever but is something of a father figure to Roger she has to decide what to do. And that to me, was far more interesting than the main plot of Holmes trying to remember a case that he solved 35 years ago but still nags him if only he could remember why.

There were good moments here, but the issue with Holmes is that we’ve seen his tricks countless times and their starting to wear a little thin for me. I would have been far more interested if the film has focused on Linneys character and her arc as Holmes doesn’t change or develop in any meaningful way.

The flashbacks themselves are good, but could have been cut out without the film loosing much of its power.

Also, this film is very sedate, there were some children in my screening that were getting very restless. Please be aware of this.

All in all, its a good looking film with some really good performances, I just wish the narrative could have been  a bit more focused.

Rating- If Nothing Else 

Entourage Review

Entourage (2015) Poster

FILM NAME -ENTOURAGE

DIRECTED BY- Doug Ellin

Starring- Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment

PLOT- Movie star Vincent Chase, together with his boys Eric, Turtle, and Johnny, are back – and back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Review-

What on Earth is this? I accepted going in that as it was based on a TV show I wasn’t going to get all of the references and in-jokes and character relationships that build up over an 8 season show. That’s fine. I even wrote a post about it. (https://wordpress.com/post/85923817/19/ if you’re interested)

I also understand that comedy is subjective, so I knew I wouldn’t get or like, all the jokes.

But, as I left the cinema screening and started to head home, I did not hear a single positive thing about the film. Not one person defended it, most were attacking it. Understand, I saw an advance screening that was two thirds full. You would assume that people who had gone to see a film early were fans of the show, but if there were any there, then they were keeping very very quiet.

To the films credit, it did have a (somewhat) flowing narrative, I did chuckle at a few of the jokes and it was shot decently and had a serviceable soundtrack.

But aside from that it was just awful. I’ve seen some bad films since starting to review, but this has to be down there. The constant cameos of stars appearing as themselves (mostly for just a few seconds and for often no plot or comedic purpose) quickly wears out its welcome. I didn’t sympathize with any of the lead characters. I found the humour unrelentingly juvenile and it’s attitude towards women and homosexuals was highly offensive to say the least.

The film suffers from an incredible amount of sup-plots, most of which felt forced in strictly to give each character something to do. Mostly they seemed to pad out the films 104 minute running time.

Like I say, I did laugh at a few of the jokes, but I just didn’t believe in any of the characters, nor did I feel at any point that there was anything at stake. There just didn’t seem to be any jeopardy, and if the characters don’t seem to be invested in their situation then why should I?

So to sum up, mostly insufferable juvenile characters, constant sexism, and homophobia, a barely there plot holding it all together, cameo after cameo, loads of unfunny jokes and a sense of smugness hanging over the whole thing.

I rate it as Poor

I would have loved to rate it lower, but I did laugh at a few jokes, it was adequately shot and the plot did sort of flow. But I still have no intention of watching it again. Ever. Under any circumstances.

My YouTube Review