Reviews

American Hustle

★★★★★★★★☆☆
Certificate 15 128 minutes
Dir: David O. Russell Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

First movie of 2014!

Christian Bale sports a beer gut and the most horrendous combover you could imagine in this 1970s era black comedy. It’s loosely based on an actual case, where the FBI forced a conman to entrap politicians into taking bribes from a “fake sheikh”. As the film says, “Some of this actually happened…”

Christian Bale plays the eponymous grifter. He’s unhappily married to inept single mother Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence – Brilliant characterisation & comic timing, but still looks far too young for these kinds of roles IMHO). Bale is forced to work for the feds when his partner in crime and love interest (Amy Adams with a delicious fake “British accent”, and styling herself Lady Edith) is herself entrapped by federal agent Bradley Cooper.

They embark on a scam to trap corrupt politicians so bizarre that it actually seems credible, even when the mob gets dragged in, in the shape of Robert De Niro, and there’s a feeling of barely suppressed madness throughout.

The four central characters almost form a strange dysfunctional family, but I couldn’t help feeling at times that this was a cast & crew reunion for last year’s Silver Linings Playbook (Cooper seems to be playing pretty much exactly the same character). I wonder if it will be as successful? 8/10

How I Live Now

Certificate 15, 101 mins. ★★★★★★★★½☆
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, George McKay, Anna Chancellor. Dir: Kevin Macdonald

This started out as your standard teen coming of age flick, set in the English/Welsh countryside. Saoirse Ronan plays a stroppy teenager who’s sent to stay with her English cousins for the Summer. So far so standard, except that it’s set against the backdrop of World War III breaking out. Just as the kids are falling in lurve, the bomb drops, destroying London and kicking off waves of wind, snow, power cuts, troops, mayhem, invaders, martial law and all that good stuff.

White House Down

Certificate 12A, 2h 11m ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

This is the third time Roland Emmerich has destroyed the White House. First in Independence Day, then in 2012, and now in White House Down. The film stars Jamie Foxx as the US President, Channing Tatum as Cale, a single father Cop who is applying for a job in the US Secret Service. Along with his 11 year old video-blogger daughter played by Joey King, he goes to the White House for an interview. When he doesn’t get the job, Cale and daughter join a  tour group. Then, wouldn’t you know it, just as daughter wanders off for a pee, the White House is attacked by a bunch of paramilitary terrorists, led by white supremicist Stenz (Jason Clarke)

Planes

Certificate U, 1h 32m ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

We’ve seen from the Red Bull air races that racing aeroplanes can be fast, exciting and dangerous, and arguably even more so than car rallying or the (boring) processional laps that dominate Formula 1. Disney has tried to capture that excitement and bring their successful Cars format to the world of flying.

Kick Ass 2

Certificate 15, 1h 53m, ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

The original Kick Ass was the shock hit of 2010. Reviled by critics because of its strong language and ultra-violence, it nevertheless became a huge success with real moviegoers. So can we expect the same from Kick Ass 2?

Brilliant 4★ Review

I’m really chuffed with this ★★★★☆ review from Kat Steiner on Goodreads: 😀

I really enjoyed Tim Arnot’s first book, Wanted, which features a post-apocalyptic Oxfordshire without electricity or modern technology. Instead, farming and horse-drawn carts are the order of the day, except that the carts are more often than not old non-functional cars, and there is a mysterious organisation of Scavs who scavenge and try to fix up any old tech they can find. And then there’s the sinister Kingsmen, who ‘disappear’ anyone found using tech, but nevertheless are suspected of using it themselves.

Few Are Chosen

Few are Chosen, by MT McGuire
★★★★☆

8732892 I found it curious that this book should be classified as fantasy, because really it’s not. There’s no magic for one thing, despite the blurb (everything is explained scientifically as ‘quantum’). Sure it’s got “creatures of colour” to be politically correct, with wiggly antennae, but so what? It’s sci-fi straight down the middle. Well, comic sci-fi really, much like The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but with a plot.

The Pan of Hamgee is a coward, and very good at it. He’s been on the run from Lord Vernon for 5 years, longer than anyone else, ever, and is still alive (staying alive is not something that Lord Vernon likes to encourage in fugitives). This strange longevity brings him to the attention of Big Merv, a gangster. Big Merv is looking for a getaway driver for a string of bank robberies that he “isn’t” going to commit, and figures that someone who has evaded Lord Vernon for so long is just the ticket.

Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa

Certificate 15, 90 minutes ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Simon Greenall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Felicity Montagu, Tim Key, Nigel Lindsay, Sean pertwee

Steve Coogan’s bumbling two-faced cringe-worthy character, TV/Radio presenter Alan partridge first appeared on Radio 4 more than 20 years ago. This quickly led to regular spots on TV and eventually his own TV show, and massive popularity for Coogan.

Daily Info review

Oxford’s Daily Info has reviewed Wanted:

Wanted, the debut of Oxfordshire-based author Tim Arnot, is the first in a series of novels telling the story of Flick Carter. Sixteen-year-old Flick lives a simple life in the town of Faringdon, some 150 years after an unspecified apocalyptic event returned Britain to an almost entirely pre-industrial state. Flick’s world is turned upside down when she meets Shea, one of the scavengers who scour the countryside for remnants of old technology. Falling foul of the local authorities and the Kingsmen – a mysterious military organisation with a reputation for ruthless efficiency – and framed for crimes she didn’t commit, Flick is forced to go on the run.

Wanted is an exciting and enjoyable read as Flick tries desperately to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. The characters are engaging, particularly Flick herself, and the detail in the book’s locations adds a sense of realism. This is clearly an author who has done his research…

Click the title above to read the full review.

The Lone Ranger

Certificate 12A, 149 minutes, ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Before writing this I went onto Rotten Tomatoes to see what they had to say – with a score of just 29%, I was intrigued to find out why everyone seems to hate this movie. It’s been branded a big budget flop in America, where it came out 6 weeks before it opened here.

Okay, so it had massive budget overruns and “production problems”, and the American press seems to think they’ve gone off Johnny Depp. But what matters at the end of the night is what you see on the silver screen, yesno? That’s what we paid our £15 quid a month Cineworld Unlimited subs for, right?