For those who know me, it’s painfully aware that comedy isn’t exactly my genre of choice when it comes to watching a flick. Well, unless it’s a classic like “Airplane!” or if the laughs are mixed in with other, better genres such as thriller and romance. That being said, Brits seem to have a direct line to my funny bone with films like “Snatch” “The Cornetto Trilogy,” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” amongst other countless successes. So, when I heard that long time television character Alan Partridge, one of my all-time favourite television personalities played by the incomparable Steve Coogan was getting a big-screen flick, you can imagine my excitement. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” met my expectations right where I put them…somewhere in the clouds. It’s a perfect mix of intelligent, witty humour, lowbrow laughs and the occasional emotional strain. However, keep in mind that this kind of hilarity isn’t for everyone…
Originating as a radio personality created by Coogan himself, Alan Partridge first appeared on the BBC radio 4 programme “On the Hour.” Then, before making the jump to his most successful undertaking, the television show “I’m Alan Partridge,” this satirical, self-made, small-time celebrity really came into form when he lent his expertise to several TV and radio specials. As time passed, Coogan’s wacky, self-obsessed invention grew quite the cult following and became a more elaborate, rooted individual. Delving into a complex family situation, an almost non-existent love/social-life, and bizarre friends and co-workers, the life of Alan Partridge became something much greater and more complex than ever anticipated. He was now as much apart of the real world as he was fiction. Now, here he is, over twenty years down the road and Alan Partridge is still relevant, hilarious, and growing.
Beginning in 2004, the idea of a Partridge film was very much alive. However, upon suffering numerous setbacks in the writing phase and struggling with delicate content, in addition to Coogan who was unsure if he wanted to continue on with his creation, the film was severely delayed. Nonetheless, it is now 2013 and after a lengthy period of uncertainty, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” hit theatres earlier this year to the acclaim of critics and cult-followers alike. Co-written by Coogan himself and directed by Declan Lowney, this unorthodox hostage flick holds the distinction of being my favourite comedy of the year. Oozing with laughs stemming from humour that ranges from smart to lowbrow, all the way down to pitch-black chuckles, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” delivers the goods. Add in some charismatic performances and satirical undertones directed at our social and political stances, and you’ve got the most successful underdog of the year, in my honest opinion.
Alan Partridge is content with his DJ position at North Norfolk Digital in Norwich. However, when the station is bought by a multinational conglomerate and the name is changed to “Shape,” Alan’s good friend Pat Farrell begins to fear the worst. After Pat and a few other co-workers convince Alan to discuss business with the station’s new owners and assure their job statuses, Alan’s irrelevance to the situation soon shifts to panic when he figures out that his job might be in question. Upon convincing his superiors to keep him on, Alan accidental on purpose throws someone under the bus. The next day, the fired employee returns and begins to shoot up the workplace and takes hostages. When the police fail to reach a settlement with the perp, Alan is called in to negotiate the standoff.
As you’ve probably concluded by now, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” stars the magnificent Steve Coogan, whom I adore dearly. The cast also features Colm Meaney as Pat Farrell, with Felicity Montagu reprising her role as Lynn and Simon Greenall returning as Michael for those familiar with the television show. Make no mistake though, this is the Steve Coogan show. This goes without saying, but to me Coogan is a comedic genius and anytime he gets to flex his acting chops is just an added delight, as those who’ve seen “The Trip” will agree. Coogan struts his stuff in this flick masterfully and I can confidently say that it’s one of his best comedic outings. Colm Meaney plays opposite Coogan here, which is no easy feat. That being said, he does a sublime job matching Coogan joke for joke, laugh for laugh. Honestly, Meaney hasn’t been this effective in years and it’s joyously see him return to form.
As much as I despise the genre, especially in its current state, everyone needs a good laugh now and again. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” is, without question, the funniest film I’ve seen so far this year, and it looks as if it’ll stay that way. It won’t win any Oscars, it won’t even be nominated, but it’s definitely worth the watch and I’ll be sure to pick it up on Bluray when it’s released.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: 9 out of 10.
Very rarely do I claim a film to be brilliant, even rarer is said “brilliant” film found in the horror genre, yet stranger things have happened…I mean, every now and again we all need a little extraordinary, right? Now, with that in mind, I’m sad to report that “Open Grave” is not one of these rarities…wait, wait, stay with me here. That being said, it wasn’t a large drop-off, in fact, the film did brush brilliance with its fingertips. Granted, those instances are few and far between, nevertheless, those sparse moments of contact are remarkable. Conversely though, it’s these precise segments of success that alert the audience to the slightly above mediocre scenes in between and the dizzying heights the film should have achieved. There’s no question that “Open Grave” is a step-above the genre’s usually contrived efforts, it’s just not canon material, more minor cult-hit. It’ll appease enthusiasts, like myself, enough for the first watch, but won’t last too long afterwords I’m afraid.
We join a man, awakening in a mass grave, stiff, dehydrated, and completely vacant of any past recollections, even his own name. After being helped out of the pit by a woman whom he does not recognize, the man stumbles upon a house filled with other survivors who also don’t remember a thing. It’s not long before the group is at each others throats as they all try to get a hold of who they are, where they are, and whom amongst them brought this chaos upon them.
Reading the plot summary beforehand was very misleading, and quite frankly a mistake on my part. Which is why the best advice I can give you going into “Open Grave” is to read as little as possible about the film itself and its story. And I just realized how contradictory that sentence is because you are already reading this article. Don’t worry though, nothing is spoiled, if anything It’ll enhance and enlighten your viewing. Now, the story is much more elaborate and intricate then the summary leads on. When it concluded, I was blown away at how clever and well-thought out the story actually is, to be honest, it knocked me off my feet. Which is probably why upon its finale I was really let-down by its execution and scattered nature. I don’t want to spoil the actual progression of events and what they lead to, but I will let you know that it’s a lot more unique and complex. I can whole-heartedly say that they story is the best thing about “Open Grave.”
Writers Eddie and Chris Borey aren’t entirely at fault, they share the blame with director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, at least in my opinion anyway. Again, it’s not the story that falters per se, it’s more the length and layout. I mean, there could have been so much more added to explain and broaden the experience. In all fairness, aside from it jumping around too often, there isn’t much wrong with the placement and performance. It’s simply the bouncing from scene to scene that’s just too disconcerting to overcome, in my opinion at least. Now, apart from this grievous error however, the direction is fairly solid. The gloomy, tense, overwhelming atmosphere is engulfing and the sense of cluelessness is heart-wrenchingly abundant. The visuals aren’t as strong as they needed to be for a film with this kind of premise and outcome, but they get the job done. The score is sufficient, much like the rest of “Open Grave’s” facets, it serves its purpose and not much else.
I need to be fair to myself and to the film for a moment. I need to stress how hard it is to write a review for this film. The plot, its twists and turns are too much of what make “Open Grave” great and I don’t want to spoil them. It feels as if I’m reviewing half a movie and that I’m not giving the film the credit it deserves, so keep that in mind when weighing my opinion, but I digress…
Had the film been deprived of its star Sharlto Copley, it’s a safe bet that I would never have given it a second glance. Nonetheless, “Open Grave” found itself the visceral, invested, significantly talented up-and-comer it desired and locked him in, effectively sinking its hooks into my watch-list, as I’m sure it did to countless others. The film also features performances from the illustrious Thomas Kretschmann and Erin Richards.
Copley once again dives head first into his role and the audience reaps the benefits. Copley somehow manages to turn his character into this two-sided being who is truly capable of anything, good or evil, which is beyond frightening. It’s quite masterful actually how he channels the motivations and emotions from one of his characters possible paths and then turns right around and utilizes it for the other half’s benefit. Look, I’m probably a little bias and we’d be here all day if I continue singling out every single thing Copley does amazingly. His performance really put the film over-theatop, well, at least enough so that it trickles down the side of cup, so to speak. Kretschmann continues to do what he does best, which is being one of the best and most recognized character actor’s alive today. Apart from Copley and Kretschmann, the acting left a lot to be desired and that just can’t happen, especially in a film that’s so ensemble-driven.
The truth is, “Open Grave” exceeded my expectations, but that being said, they weren’t that high to begin with. The story is phenomenal and Copley is stunning as usual. They are let down by the choppiness and inexperience surrounding them and the final product radiates this inconsistency. But again, that being said, it’s better than a majority of the genre’s efforts, combine that with an enthralling story and Copley’s fine performance and it’s enough to make “Open Grave” recommended viewing…Seriously, the story is what makes this worth the watch alone…
Open Grave: 8 out of 10.
Okay all, this is the post that will initiate what I hope to be my crowning achievement thus far in my blogging career. My objective is to achieve a top 10 list consisting of the best films from the year 2013. Sounds fairly simple, right? Just pick the ten films I feel best represent the year that was in cinema and post it for all the world to see… While you are not wrong in thinking that, I’m dreaming of something much grander…illustrious, timeless. I would like all of you, yes you: fellow bloggers, readers, and film-lovers…wait for it…to create the list!
You think I’m crazy, don’t you? Well, before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. The way this will work is each of you will vote for your top 3 films of 2013 in the poll located in the “vote” section of the main menu above. I’ve listed a significant amount of films for you to chose from. However, if there is a flick I’ve overlooked, you may add the answer to the poll yourself. You will only be allowed to vote once, so think your answers over. Obviously 2013 is not over yet and December is home to several Oscar-caliber films such as “Her,” “American Hustle,” “Out of the Furnace,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” So, if you plan on seeing any or all of these films, or any film that you feel might crack your top 3, you might want to hold off for a bit until you’ve seen every movie you want to. Voting will close sometime in January, obviously the earlier the better! Lastly, when you complete your selections, please comment below the poll that you have participated so I don’t have to track you down for no reason. Then, when polling closes, I will compile the results into a top 10 list for all to read and share. It’ll be a list that we, true cinephiles with opinions and voices that differ from snobby critics, can be proud of. A list that any film-lover can understand!
So to recap…head on over to the “vote” section of The Cinema Monster, select the 3 films you feel are the best of 2013…and vote! Then quickly comment below that you’ve voted so I don’t have to sniff you out… then you are done! It’s sooo easy! There is no excuse for you not to participate! I’m calling in all the favours…I will hunt you down. I will spam your Twitter account, Facebook, Blogs, Websites…any and all forms of social networking and interaction until you vote.
Now, I’d just like to give a big thank you to all of my beloved readers and fellow bloggers in advance for your time and votes!
I’d like to start off this edition of The Gushing Cinephile with a non-film related topic. As most of you know, the next-gen console war officially got underway with the releases of Playstation 4 and Xbox One this month. Personally, I stood in line this past Thursday evening for quite some time to ensure that I obtained my next-gen gaming system, the Xbox One…which I’m loving to death by the way! That being said, I’m rather curious as to what you, my fellow bloggers and readers, think of the newest consoles, their capabilities, and video-gaming in general. This affects movie lovers as well, considering that you can watch Netflix and rent or buy movies on them, in addition to utilizing the consoles as Bluray/DVD players. So please respond to the poll below and drop a comment regarding anything to do with gaming.
First up, a badass poster from one of the best films 2013 has to offer, “Big Bad Wolves.” You can check out our review of the flick by clicking here and the poster below!
Homage to giallo “Berberian Sound Studio” will be hitting home video December 10, 2013.
One of my favourites from TIFF 2012, “Sightseers” will finally be coming to Bluray in North America on December 10, 2013. You can check out our review here!
What I’m sure will be nominated in the foreign Oscar category, “The Hunt” starring Mads Mikkelsen will be invading your personal lives on December 10, 2013. Check out our review here!
With a star-studded cast and disturbing content, “Devil’s Knot” has got my attention…
The latest release from Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) unveiled a trailer this past week? The film is entitled “All the Light In the Sky” and has got its hooks in me.
Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic “Noah” unleashed its first trailer. Maybe it’s just me, but I was a little let down. Don’t get me wrong though, still looking forward to it!
Now we’re talking! Lars Von Trier’s sex addiction epic “Nymphomaniac” finally released a full-length trailer. Be aware, it is a red-band trailer containing graphic nudity, so people 18 and over only!
James Franco and Jessica Chastain! Count me in! This is the trailer for “Tar!”
I think that I’ve finally decided that I’d travel to see Jason Clarke in a film. “Swerve” is his newest outing and I can’t wait to catch it!
It may be short, it may not contain a lot of actual content, but this teaser for “Sherlock: Season 3″ has done its job.
That’ll do it for this week’s edition of The Gushing Cinephile. I hope you enjoyed it!
See, this is why you should always watch a film that interests you no matter what, regardless of the general consensus. I don’t know why, but it seems like the past few years have been overflowing with hidden gems that many have dismissed, simply presuming that the opinions and habits of other (idiotic) film-viewers are infallible. Films like “On the Road,” “Only God Forgives, and “The Counselor” have all been notoriously smashed by critics and the general public alike, resulting in an abundance of undeserved negativity, virtually non-existent box office returns and so on. For example, I’ve read a few articles on all the aforementioned flicks, including “Charlie Countryman,” and they’ve all been deemed irrefutably flawed by the majority, in some way, on the top two reviewing websites, those being IMdB and Rotten Tomatoes. The only reason I bring those two up is because in my experience, they’re what a significant amount of movie-goers check for info and testimonials before heading to the theatre or renting a flick.
People are impressionable you know, when they read a bad review, see terrible opening weekend numbers, it sticks with them, and as much as I try to be, I’m no different. I’ve been excited about “Charlie Countryman” for a while now, but when I saw this black hole of hate engulfing it, I became a little leery. The only thing that kept pushing me forward were my past experiences with the films I previously mentioned. They were all shot down before even being given a legitimate chance. So I vowed that I’d never toss a film to the wayside without due diligence, and boy has that attitude payed huge dividends. While not a contender for best picture of the year, “Charlie Countryman” does have purpose and merit. It’s different, intriguing, heart-wrenching. This might be a bad thing for some, but I like to be sad with a film just as much as I like to be content. So let’s do away with useless cinematic conventions and give the underdogs a chance. Finding films with value on the periphery are all the more rewarding and personal, they stick with you.
“Charlie Countryman,” Directed by Fredrick Bond and written by Matt Drake, is an extreme love story you won’t soon forget starring Shia LaBeouf, Mads Mikkelsen, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint, and Til Schweiger. Not to mention tremendous supporting performances from Vincent D’onofrio, Melissa Leo, and John Hurt. Now, with a cast of this caliber, it’s easy to see how some have set the bar unreachably high. But let’s discuss the film itself for now, we’ll return to the performances in a bit. We join Charlie (LaBeouf) in a bit of a crisis, his mother is not longed for this world and he’s struggling with the simplicity of his existence. After his mother passes, Charlie sets off to Bucharest in order to keep a promise he made to her and to realize, experience his life. On the plane, Charlie finds himself in another precarious situation regarding death and promises. Upon landing, amongst the chaos and confusion, Charlie meets Gabi and immediately falls in love, but soon understands that anything worth while comes with sacrifice.
Right off the top from the plot’s description, it’s clear to see that “Charlie Countryman” isn’t anything out of the ordinary story-wise. This isn’t a problem, simply push the tale’s lack of originality to the back burner and enjoy the film’s strengths. Director Fredrick Bond does a marvellous job capturing the harsh, underworld beauty of Bucharest. A city that doesn’t often get he chance to strut its stuff on the big screen. Complimenting the skylines and structures is a magnificent, entrancing soundtrack that is lively, ambient, and intoxicating. The score, for me anyway, was the pleasant surprise of the entire film. Now, although writer Matt Drake did struggle creating something of individuality and that will stand the test of time. There is some terrific dialogue that’ll give you reoccurring chills. He didn’t get a lot of things right with “Charlie Countryman,” but the one thing Drake’s script isn’t, is cliche.
Getting back to the portrayals, I mean, what can one say? It’s hard to blame anyone here for “Charlie Countryman’s” faults. In the title role, Shia LaBeouf clearly cherished every moment on screen and the honest ambiguity the character afforded him to unleash. The sadness, happiness, and emotional range he executes is flawless. As for his character’s lover, Gabi, portrayed by the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, there’s nothing to dwell on brashly here either. The accent may get a little ridiculous at times, but she’s equally as emotionally invested as LaBeouf. Now, the main reason I caught this flick was to watch Mads Mikkelsen. No offence to the cast or crew, some of which whom I adore greatly, it’s just that he’s just near the top of my to-watch-list. While Mads doesn’t blow the top off “Charlie Countryman,” he doesn’t phone it in. With his resume, it’s simply hard to turn up a performance that rivals his greatness. The supporting cast is also superbly strong. Compiled of some of the best in the business, if the story and cinematic aspects don’t get you, the cast surely will.
Superlatively acted, visually striking, and emotionally strong. “Charlie Countryman” may not have the staying power some might have hoped, but is definitely strong enough to evoke a response.
Charlie Countryman: 7 out of 10.
Ruairi Robinson’s “The Last Days On Mars” sure picked one hell of a time to unveil. With sci-fi stunners like “Europa Report” and Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar heavyweight “Gravity” already lighting up the screen so far this year, it appears this horrific space adventure is a tad too late to the party. That being said, although it certainly doesn’t measure up to its brethren’s immense successes, this little tale about a group of astronauts fighting off their colleagues turned space-zombies offers up a few moments of pure brilliance and one heck of a soundtrack. Make no mistake, this flick is only related to the previously mentioned gems by label only. Their content, premises, and aspirations are in no way alike. While all three are technically science-fiction, their sub-genres greatly differ. “Gravity” is more of a thriller, “Europa Report” a mix between mockumentary and drama, and our current subject “The Last Days On Mars,” is without question, a horror. So one must critique accordingly.
Reading through some of the more harsh reviews out there, I noticed terms like “over-saturation” and “generic” getting tossed around, not to mention the opinion floating about that another perfectly sublime sci-fi epic was ruined by falling back to convention and common ploys. Then you have those claiming that ”The Last Days On Mars” failed when compared to the genre’s efforts this year, and to their credit, they’re idiotically accurate. Of course it crumbles when lining it up alongside films like “Gravity,” the two aren’t even in the same league! All this criticism does is make it easy for those on the fence to get caught up in the negativity surrounding “The Last Days On Mars” and disparage it all together. When in actuality, it’s anything but your run-of-the-mill space horror. The acting is strong, the visuals breathtaking, and the soundtrack rivals those of past, great sci-fi epics. There is value here, one just needs to look beyond the mistakes.
“The Last Days On Mars” is a lot like a plate of food you receive at a fancy banquet hall or that someone has ordered for you…instead of throwing it away, just pick around what you don’t like. Sure, you could be a baby about it and toss the whole meal out all together and miss out on something spectacular, or you can live a little and swallow the occasional bitterness just to say you had. This film, this plate, this smorgasbord of space, spectacle, sensation, and slaughter might be chaotic, inconceivable, and tired, but it’s also beautiful, stimulating, and rewarding. I can tell you in confidence that there is a hell of a lot things I genuinely loved about “The Last Days On Mars,” and yeah, a few that didn’t sit well with me. Yet, I’m not going to throw something away just because I don’t particularly like or agree with all of it, which is what a lot of viewers seem to be doing with this polarizing look at exploration and discovery.
Director Ruairi Robinson makes his full-length feature debut with “The Last Days On Mars,” and for the most part, it’s a reassuring, impressive one at that. He’s a little shaky from time to time, but doesn’t get too comfortable in his mistakes. At times, his quick movements and jumping around will nauseate you a tad, but other than a few questionable scenes, it’s a successful outing. There’s moments he captures of such beauty and atmosphere that they’ll leave you shaking your head in disbelief. If there is a weak spot in the film, it’s the screenplay. Scribed by Clive Dawson, the structure can seem nonexistent at times and the story a little worn out. That being said, there are some lines of dialogue that blew me away and moments of excellent substance that make up for any wrong doings.
Max Richter, who’s probably best known for his musical contributions to Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” composes the original score for this flick…and what a score it is. I mean, What can I say? After I finished watching “The Last Days On Mars” I went and bought the soundtrack…that’s probably the best summary I can give. Go and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. As for the cast, led by Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, and Romola Garai, I felt they really grounded the film, gave it that human element is desperately needed. They frequently executed Dawson’s dialogue to heartbreaking effectiveness and melded into a dysfunctional, occasionally funny family on the edge of collapse and death in the middle of nowhere. Granted, things could have been a little stronger and consistent on the acting front, but for what they’re given, this cast does a respectable job.
Look, this ain’t Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine,” Duncan Jones “Moon,” or Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” It has similar themes, motivations…you know, some fragments of those films, but not to the same extent, nor is it as thoroughly executed. Odds are if zombies in space isn’t a flavour you prefer, this film isn’t for you. That being said, its stunning visuals, transcendent score, and powerful characters make “The Last Days On Mars” a notch above the genre’s drivel, enough anyway to make it recommended viewing.
The Last Days On Mars: 7.5 out of 10.
Another Friday is upon us…you know what that means don’t you? It’s time for another kick-ass edition of The Guest List! This week I am fortunate enough to have Cara from Silver Screen Serenade contribute her very own top 10 to the segment! If you don’t already subscribe/follow to her site, I highly suggest you do so…right after you read her incredible top 10!
If you’re interested in submitting your very own top 10 to the segment, here’s how! By the way, I’m still waiting on a lot of you to send a post over, so if you can, throw an e mail my way letting me know when I can expect it by.
All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (email@example.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.
I’m going to turn things over to Cara now, enjoy!
Top 10 Marvel/DC Villains: by Cara
Having just seen “Thor: The Dark World” (which is great, by the way), I am on a major superhero high right now. But you know what? It’s not just a superhero high. As they say, it takes two to tango. What fun would a righteous superhero be without a nasty ol’ supervillain? With that in mind, here are some of my personal favorite supervillains from the ever-expanding world of Marvel and DC films.
10: The Mandarin/Trevor Slattery (Iron Man 3)
Maybe in the end he’s not quite what we thought he’d be, but you have to admit that Ben Kingsey’s portrayal of The Mandarin is pretty freaking intense in Iron Man 3—even if (SPOILER ALERT) the whole persona is a farce. A terrorist with a vendetta against Tony Stark, he rocks his shades, wicked beard, fancy robe, and camo pants like nobody’s business, and the creepy way he talks will give you chills. And if that doesn’t work for you, maybe hilarious, ridiculous Trevor will win you over.
9: Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
In Batman Begins, Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow is the corrupt head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, where he experiments on inmates with a hallucinogenic toxin that induces fear. He may not be physically imposing, but that mask is scary as all get out—especially after a dose of the toxin. The Scarecrow spreads his toxin across Gotham, and the resulting chaos nearly destroys the city. After his plan is foiled, the Scarecrow makes two delightful cameos in the Dark Knight sequels. He’s the only villain to appear in all three Nolan films, and that’s awesome.
8: Red Skull/Johann Schmidt (Captain America: The First Avenger)
A supervillain and a Nazi? Can they get much more evil than that?! When we’re introduced to Captain America on the big screen, he’s fighting against Nazi Germany, and Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull becomes his biggest adversary. The ruthless head of the Nazis’ HYDRA research division, the Red Skull is obsessed with power, magic, and the occult, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants. His eerie appearance is the result of bad batch of super soldier serum. Funny how a similar serum makes Captain America so darn attractive…
7: Mystique/ Raven Darkholme (X-Men series)
A staple of the original three X-Men movies, Rebecca Romijn’s shape shifting Mystique is easily one of the toughest mutants on the block. She may be a woman of few words, but it’s hard to find time to talk when you have so many asses to kick. This blue beauty is super athletic, super clever, and super loyal to evil best bud Magneto. Also, one time she snapped a guy’s neck with her feet. If that’s not the definition of a badass, I don’t know what is.
6: The Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Spider Man)
The first foe we get to see Spider-Man tackle on the big screen, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin sets the standard pretty high for tech-savvy supervillains. He’s got a fancy jet glider loaded with ammunition, lots of dangerous little bombs, and even some paralytic gasses—all of which put Spider-Man in some tight spots. Oh, and the Green Goblin is also hopped up on an experimental super soldier formula that makes him both very strong and very crazy—a great combination for a supervillain.
5: Doctor Octopus/Dr. Otto Octavius (Spider Man 2)
Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus takes extreme body modification to a whole new level. You think piercings and tattoos are a big deal? How about adding four super strong robotic limbs? After an experiment goes awry, Doc Ock is at first horrified to find himself fused to the metal arms, but it doesn’t take long for him to give in to grief and obsession and use the limbs for a wicked, dangerous purpose. Even Spider-Man struggles with this handsy (tentacly?) foe.
4: Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
He may be hard to understand sometimes through his intense headgear, but the bulging muscles and sinister plans send a pretty clear message: don’t mess with Tom Hardy’s Bane. The lethal final foe in the Dark Knight Trilogy, Bane almost puts Batman out of commission for good with one backbreaking blow. As clever as he is strong, the villain successfully captures and shuts down the entire city of Gotham for months, nearly destroying it before Batman swoops in to save the day. He’s definitely one of the most intense villains on this list.
3: Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (X-Men series)
Graceful, charismatic, and totally ruthless, Sir Ian McKellan’s Magneto looks just as suave playing chess as he does manipulating metal for destructive, murderous purposes. And he does it all with a cheeky, grandfatherly twinkle in his eye. Formerly a close friend of benevolent telepath Professor Xavier, Magneto chooses a darker path in life—a path that is constantly at odds with the existence of pesky humans. A clever mutant who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, Magneto causes serious trouble for Professor X’s mutants in all three original X-Men films.
2: Loki (Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World)
Without shame, I will admit that I love Tom Hiddleston’s Asgardian magician Loki slightly more than the villain’s brother and superhero counterpart, Thor. Often straddling the line between supervillain and anti-hero, Loki is a prominent figure in both Thor films as well as The Avengers. He’s embittered by jealousy and rage, and he craves power above all else, yet he’s also wickedly charming and funny. Plus, he’s constantly battling a secret soft spot for his bro, which just makes you wanna go “aww.” Fans have so much Loki love that they’re even petitioning for a solo movie. We can only dream…
1: The Joker (The Dark Knight)
Like anyone else was going to snag the number one slot. Very predictable of me, I know, but Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the intense, terrifying Joker in The Dark Knight will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best portrayals of a supervillain ever. The Joker gleefully wreaks havoc in Gotham City, slaughtering citizens with a jagged smile and a chilling cackle. He’s a brilliant, twisted terrorist, but he’s also darkly humorous and completely fascinating. Without this supervillain, The Dark Knight simply would not be the masterpiece that it is. R.I.P. Heath.
Okay then, what a list! Remember to head on over to Silver Screen Serenade and follow! A big thank you to Cara for contributing! Everyone have a great weekend!
If you were to ask the casual film-viewer what their thoughts are as to what is ultimately hampering the romantic-comedy these days, odds are they’d reply that their premises, unfurling of events, and happy-go-lucky nature aren’t very realistic, therefore supremely disengaging. Put in layman’s terms, almost everything about them is far fetched which renders their message, their point, their reason for simply being inert and unattainable. The rom-com used to be and should still be one of the most elemental, down-to-earth, and audience compatible genres. Yet nowadays, it seems that every week another cold, forced, and faceless piece of less-than-romantic, unfunny drivel is released. To make matters worse, the dialogue is contrived and overly gooey, and the characters either come off as pretentious, act un-rightfully entitled, or are just plain out loaded…in other words, they’re nothing more than couple of spineless, snobby saps unworthy of your time. Thankfully however, “About Time” is none of the sort.
Now, what’s quite ironic is that this aforementioned general opinion regarding the genre is itself fairly contrived, more just going with the flow instead of forming personal opinions…but there is a method to this madness. I mean, you used to go into the theatre to see a rom-com and be fairly sure that this, your dark, lonely existence would be illuminated…at the very least dimly lit by the opportunity, the chance at something with purpose. You know, something that would make the remainder of your days meaningful, bearable. Why? you ask. Well let’s face it, the honest truth is that this short span of time we have is extremely disheartening and the only thing that lights up our brief days is love, in its many transcendent forms. Today, you’re lucky if 10% of rom-com flicks are superb enough to evoke such a reaction and the rest miraculously flop, predictably.
I know that some of you are married or have significant others, and even kids, so the previous rant might not apply to you. If this is the case, just smirk condescendingly at my vulnerability…but I digress. Look, if I’m to be honest with you, my readers whom I adore endlessly. Recently I had given up on the big “L” word and the genre entirely (neither had anything to do with my dismissal of the other). The last rom-com that I can confidently say I swept me off my feet was “Wedding Crashers,” so yeah, it’s been a while. This year however, I’m feeling slightly more optimistic, I’m still, slightly young so there’s still time to turn everything around, and it just so happens that two of my favourite films of the year are romantic-comedies, those being “Drinking Buddies” and the one I’m about to review, “About Time,” a good sign for my progression if you ask me (optimism). However, this being said, my previous statements about the genre still remain prominent and true. With the exception of a few here and there, the genre is suffering…but this debate is for another day.
To switch things up rather abruptly, here’s a peeve of mine I hope you reflect. Don’t you hate it when a film’s marketing doesn’t do it justice or presents the flick itself incorrectly? This common, grave error occurs all too often and essentially leads to misinterpretations, bad auras, and critic negativity…you know, absorption misconceptions. A few off the top of my head, “Only God Forgives,” “On the Road,” and “The Counselor” just to name a few. Why I bring this up is because I fear that “About Time” was branded all wrong and that it’ll be misunderstood and underrated as a result…a thought my buddy brought up upon exiting the theatre that I had swirling around my head throughout its runtime that I agreed with.
To go even further off topic, did you know I went to the same university as “About Time” star Rachel McAdams, just a few years after she graduated? And Malin Akerman, but that’s besides the point. Doesn’t that suck? Here I am sitting alone, when I could be married to my ultimate crush had I been born just a few years earlier. Wow, this review got sidetracked in a hurry, let’s get back to the film.
There are few who know love as well as Richard Curtis, and even fewer who can execute it to such an effective degree on the big screen. Director of “Love, Actually,” and scribe of “Notting Hill,” just to rattle off a few of his most notable rom-coms, Curtis is one of the most talented and perennial minds the genre has ever known. He continues down this road he has long trotted and helped solidify with another piece of solid gold containing such mesmerizing humanity and willing vulnerability that it rivals even his most accomplished outing, whatever you feel that may be.
Following a quirky, romantic lawyer who has the ability to time travel to any moment in the past and change whatever he wishes. “About Time” might not be Curtis’ most original piece, but is definitely the most inventive, funny, and emotionally relentless he’s ever conjured, in my opinion anyway. Granted, the story’s structure and premise is nothing you haven’t seen or heard before, but try not to focus on the weary ploy of a lonesome time-traveler. What is most mesmerizing, astounding, and rewarding about this flick doesn’t have to do with the story or thematic retread, but rather what Curtis accomplishes and evokes with it. There is only one other filmmaker (Drake Doremus) I know of that can capture those subtle, minuscule movements and glances that exude true happiness, sadness, and disheartening realizations as well as Curtis does here. For just his third feature behind the camera, Curtis shows the talent of a wily veteran. Regardless if you’re a fan of his work, a cinephile, or just becoming aquatinted, this is a must see.
What’s even more important than having an invested, well-versed overseer conducting and directing the flow is a cast with chemistry, charisma, and honesty. Starring the lovely Rachel Mcadams, the immensely talented Bill Nighy, and sky-rocketing up-and-comer Domhnall Gleeson, it’s fair to say that “About Time” is formidable across the board. Gleeson, although remarkably skilled, still managed to stun me with his performance. The vast spectrum and depth of the emotions he portrays is decidedly accurate and plain-out staggering. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more authentic, driven performance this year. Nighy, who still flies unnecessarily under the radar here in North America, adds another flawless undertaking to his already stellar resume. Finally, the always radiant Rachel McAdams has somehow managed to leave me breathless once again. I’d love to go into more detail, but I don’t want to come off as a creep. All you need to know is that she delivers in every aspect…just stunning.
Nothing like the negativity you’ve probably read or heard and is anything but what you expected. “About Time” is, without question, one of the sleeper hits this year.
About Time: 8.5 out of 10.
I don’t normally watch short films unless they’re referred to me or nominated in that specific category at the Oscars…and even then it’s just to stay calibrated with the goings on in the film industry. It’s not that I find them to be a lesser form of filmmaking or anything like that, far from it. Simply put, they don’t interest me or catch my attention is what I guess I’m trying to say. Off the top of my head I couldn’t name you more than a handful of vignettes, let alone those that I rather enjoyed, and to be honest a lot of those that I do recall are made by Pixar. On the other hand, I do like to dip into the occasional anthology, but I don’t think they’re considered the same thing. I can’t grasp the concept of them. I feel it’s too much like jumping into a story at the climax. To their credit though, as the evolution of the short continues to progress, they tend to contain more and more effort into establishing a thorough, relative perspective. I don’t know, am I missing something? Please comment below with your thoughts and some references if you’ve got. Now, enough of my blabbering, onto the review.
Not to be brash, but the only reason I watched “Little Favour” was for the same reason I think anyone will, Benedict Cumberbatch. Everything that man touches, I must witness. I’ve been an obsessor of his for a good long while now, as I’m sure many of you will attest to. And as I do with anything I post containing Cumberbatch, I implore you to watch his earlier work, specifically “Stuart: A Life Backwards” and “Hawking,” but I digress. ”Little Favour” directed by Patrick Viktor Monroe, begins with Wallace (Cumberbatch), a war veteran dealing with PTSD attending a meeting with an old friend, James (Colin Salmon), whom Wallace owes a great deal of debt .Upon agreeing to babysit James’ little girl as a little favour, Wallace returns home with his new found responsibility and is viciously attacked and subjected to questioning by a group of thugs searching for James.
The premise really is quite something, extremely intriguing. Nevertheless, I found it too short to absorb fully, I just couldn’t get into it like I would have preferred to. To its credit though, for its length, “Little Favour” did manage to grab me significantly, more than any previous short film anyway. Now, I don’t know if I’ve been spoiled by such rich, powerful performances recently, but I couldn’t help but want more from the ensemble. Or it could be that alongside Cumberbatch, it’s simply impossible to measure up. Salmon really is terrific, the shining star apart from Benedict himself. Other than that however, the performances left a lot to the imagination. What surprised me the most was Monroe’s camerawork, just superb. Hopefully in the near future he can helm a full-length feature, cause I’d really like to see what he can do. I’m sure it’ll happen because this little short will definitely spike his popularity.
It never fails to astound me how Cumberbatch, one of the busiest, most sought-after actors working in the industry currently, continues to churn out gem upon gem without faltering. Then it hit me, when you’re this talented and love what you do as much as he does, is it work? I mean, I know it takes a strenuous effort to do what he does, it just appears impossible that he can steadily reach such a height without stumbling. But I guess that’s why he is who he is. While Cumberbatch’s performance here doesn’t measure up to his illustrious standards, it’s still fairly entrancing. I’ve come to the conclusion that his portrayal here is hampered by the film’s length and premise. It doesn’t hit him or orbit him as it should. He gives it his all, it’s just too small a sample size to deduce any effect, so not to any extent is this his fault. For its entirety, the performance of Cumberbatch is still very poignant, and considering how compacted the story is, the output of Cumberbatch is all the more potent.
For all my unbalanced ramblings and flip-flopping, I’d still recommend “Little Favour,” if only for Cumberbatch’s performance. It is quite good, and I don’t know, I’d watch it again…
Little Favour: 8 out of 10.
When a slew of young girls are discovered murdered, amongst other unspeakable acts, a rogue detective, a grieving parent seeking revenge, and the top suspect are sent careening toward one another. When their paths meet, the events their intersection sets in motion are unbelievably intense, smart, violent, and most surprising of all, hilarious. This is ”Big Bad Wolves.” The film that revolves around a chair in a room. But don’t let the simplicity of the setting mislead you. One minute you’re watching the unfolding of a severe plunge into the human psyche, the next you’re realizing that it’s you who has been tortured and dissected for the past two hours. By no means is this a negative thing, never will you experience a thrill-ride as immersive and thorough as this. Delving into our social evolution and its parameters, the strengths and weaknesses of our morals, and the terrifying, infinite probabilities one will enact and undergo for a loved one. “Big Bad Wolves,” all in all, is a prime example of a film that tests you both mentally and physically.
Now, you might be thinking that there is nothing funny about innocent little girls being sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered. Next, you might be pondering what kind of sick psychopath would find comedy in this, let alone interesting enough to make an entire film on the subject. The answer to that last question is Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, but that’s besides the point. This might lead you to combine both thoughts leaving you, more than likely, prompted to say “well…I never!” While I can’t blame you for this reaction, because I would have responded in the same manner had I just been provided with this information, I can take responsibility for it. I might have mislead you earlier. See, “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t so much poke fun at pedophillia, it just simply uses it as a common base for the characters to cohere around. It’s merely meant to draw the characters together and motivate them. The hilarity stems from it, you know, it’s employed around it, it’s not the subject of the laughs. So by no means rant and rave about this film or its creators negatively. What you should be doing is praising Aharon and Navot for their impressive talent to use comedy in such a deplorable situation tastefully.
If I’m to be honest with you, I’m finding it really difficult to review this film. Not because it was awful or it’s themes despicable. I mean, when Quentin Tarantino says that it’s the best film of the year, what else can one say? How can I argue the truth? What weight does my word have against that of the great, illustrious Quentin Tarantino? None, that’s how much! Of course, as it is with every flick ever released, “Big Bad Wolves” will undoubtedly not be to everyone’s preference. It’s a very provocative, controversial film dealing with delicate, deplorable topics. That being said, if you’re a cinephile, I implore you not to pass up the chance to see this flick. Everything about its execution and structure is beyond phenomenal. The acting is quite possibly the strongest I’ve seen so far this year by an ensemble, the story is captivating and horrifying, yet you can’t look away, and the visuals strike as subtly atmospheric, but at times disgusting and disturbing, so it’s quite the contrast to experience.
If you’re familiar with Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, you’re probably familiar with their debut feature “Rabies.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you check it out. They’ve come a long way, all the way from Israel as a matter of fact, to bring you one of the most inventive, thought-provoking films of the year. So put away any displeasure you might have of viewing a film that’s subtitled and brace yourselves for the onslaught. Keshales and Papushado’s camerawork is absolutely sublime and if there was ever any question regarding their storytelling abilities, they’ve definitely put those criticisms underground. “Rabies” hit some viewers as slightly jumbled and incoherent. So what does this diabolical duo do to silence their critics? They revive one of the oldest forms of storytelling, the fairy tale, with a dark, sociopathic, ingenious twist. “Big Bad Wolves” doesn’t pull any punches or flinch away from the ugly bits, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tolerance level.
I apologize, I just couldn’t leave without giving you the details on “Big Bad Wolves” outstanding ensemble. The film stars Lior Ashkenazi (who you might recognize from “Rabies”) as rogue detective Miki, Tzahi Grad as Gidi, the vengeful father of the latest victim, and Rotem Keinan as Dror, the unfortunate recipient of Gidi and Miki’s uncontrollable rage. Usually I’d tell you which actor outperformed the others and so on, but not this time. As I said previously, this is without question one of the best collective efforts I’ve seen so far this year. The earnestness, confusion, and helplessness each character exudes at the hands of this depressing motivation oozes with authenticity. The believability in each glance, each movement is astounding, as if each portrayer has transcended their role to become entangled in this saddening circumstance. They don’t know why their humanity has fleeted them so quickly, but their soldier on nonetheless. Truly superlative work from the entire cast.
Funny, violent, and honest, “Big Bad Wolves” is as original, entrancing, and creative as they come.
Big Bad Wolves: 9 out of 10.