Category Archives: Films And Movies

This year’s blockbusters? Just more of the same warmed up

imageBlockbuster season is here, and most of the films are relying on familiar formulas, says Tim Robey.

Oscars safely stashed on mantelpieces, it’s that time of year when Hollywood’s thoughts turn from bubbly and backslapping to what really matters: guaranteed bums on seats for the next six months. With this week’s John Carter, blockbuster season 2012 could be said to have sputtered, earlier than ever, into rude life.

What delights does it hold in store? Themes would appear to include superheroes, massive quantities of computer effects, threequels, fourquels, vampires, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and, oh, superheroes.

War Horse – Movie Review

imageThe movie in limelight today is, War Horse, star casting Jeremy Irvine playing Albert along with his horse Joey in Steven Spielberg’s movie. The director, Steven Spielberg, has been doing his work in Britain for about as many as thirty years. This person has worked long enough to deserve an honorary knighthood. He has described his movie, War Horse, as a movie which is based on the children’s novel, which is written by Michael Morpurgo. This novel talks about the war’s madness in detail and this is Steven’s first ever truly British movie.

Limitless Movie Review, Starring Bradley Cooper & Robert De Niro

imageI know how Eddie Morra feels. Like him, I know almost everything, but have forgotten most of it. We are told time and again that we use only a small portion of our brains and have enough left over to run nations in our down time. “Limitless” is about Eddie’s adventures after his ex-brother-in-law gives him a pill that suddenly puts his entire brain online.

He finishes his novel at typing speed. He wins at poker, invests in the market, and runs it up to millions. He fascinates a woman who had rejected him as a loser. He knows intuitively how to handle situations that used to baffle him. He is hailed as the Wall Street guru of the age.

Fox cancel Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova

imageUS TV network Fox has ditched Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova after just one season.

US TV network Fox has ditched Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova after just one season.

The big budget prehistoric series averaged 7.5 million viewers in America but did not do as well as hoped.

It is reported that 20th Century Fox TV will now try to sell it to other networks.

After the premiere was delayed twice, the series made it to air in September but had mixed reviews. The final episode of the first series was shown on 19 December.

The drama starred Jason O’Mara, Stephen Lang, Christine Adams and Shelley Conn.

Black Gold, review

Black Gold is a punishingly tedious Arabian epic from the director of Seven Years in Tibet.

Dir: Jean-Jacques Annaud; starring Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, Riz Ahmed, Freido Pinto

Like a cool oasis, the end credits shimmer tantalisingly on the horizon throughout this punishingly tedious Arabian epic from Jean-Jacques Annaud, director of Seven Years in Tibet.

Oscars 2012: and the winner is?

imageThe triumph of ‘The Artist’ is almost certain at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Our film critics look at who else is in the running.

It’s hard to know what the oddest thing about the Academy Awards is this year: the fact that a silent, black-and-white French film is the likeliest big winner, or the fact that that win now seems boringly predictable. But that’s the magic of the Oscars: in just one night, it can transform a cinema fan’s passion for an under‑appreciated gem into shoulder‑shrugging, told-you-so indifference.

Contagion: movie review

imageA lethal bug spirals out of control in a chillingly authentic disaster movie from Steven Soderbergh.

What’s the story?
An encounter in Hong Kong transmits a virus that rapidly spreads. At the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff race to contain the disease before it destroys everyone.

Melancholia: movie review

imageIt’s the end of the world as we know it for Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland. But do they feel fine?

What’s the story?
On her wedding day, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) succumbs to a depression that ruins the best-laid plans of sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland). Might her mood be connected to the giant blue planet plunging towards Earth?

Why Hollywood needs more women in charge

imageDenise Ream, producer of Pixar’s Cars 2, talks about the increasing number of female big hitters in the film industry.

How important is it that more women are in positions like yours? And do you feel a responsibility to promote role models for girls?

I do feel a responsibility. I was very pleased with Holly Shiftwell, the Emily Mortimer character in Cars 2, who originally had a much smaller role in the film. Due to Emily’s performance and the intelligence that she brought to the role, Holly ended up becoming a major character in the film.

The Lion King, DVD review

imageOne of Disney’s most accomplished animations of recent times, The Lion King makes a swift leap to DVD.

Following last month’s theatrical re-release (in 3D), one of Disney’s most accomplished animations of recent times makes a swift leap to DVD (and 3D Blu-ray) – the first time it has been available in any form since 2004.

The story of lion cub Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick), heir to the kingdom who must overcome the treachery of his evil uncle Scar (voiced with malevolent relish by Jeremy Irons), blends echoes of Hamlet with knockabout larks from a supporting menagerie of creatures, particularly the meerkat/warthog double act of Timon and Pumbaa.

The spreading savannah and endless African skies are beautifully drawn, and, with Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata and the Oscar-winning Can You Feel the Love Tonight (by Tim Rice and Elton John), the soundtrack is one of Disney’s most memorable.

Has Hollywood cracked China?

imageThe Chinese film industry is ‘opening up’, but how genuine it is about co-operation with US studios remains to be seen Here’s a business-lounge scary story. In 1994, Warner Bros was feeling very pleased with itself. It had just finalised a joint venture with the Chinese government to bring the splendours of multiplex cinema to the country. And the terms were good: a 70/30 profit split in favour of the Americans. Building began, but several months later, strange tidings arrived at Warner HQ. The arrangement had been reviewed: still favouring Warner, but now to the tune of 51/49. There was confusion and disbelief in California, but work continued. The eighth cinema was ready when the inevitable happened: the Chinese authorities decided that foreign companies could not own cinemas. The split was arbitrarily reversed 49/51, leaving Beijing with its hands on the curtain cords of several million dollars’ worth of chipper new multiplexes.

Joe Cornish on E.T.

imageThe director of Attack the Block and co-writer of the forthcoming Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn explains his devotion to Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction classic.

I saw ET for the first time in New York when I was 12. I had never been to America before, and I basically got off the plane, got on the subway and went straight to the cinema to watch it. I knew who Spielberg was because I’d seen Jaws: it had been given an A certificate [the equivalent of today’s PG], so lots of kids had.

The build-up to when you first see the alien in ET is done so beautifully – it’s just suggested by a light in the tall grass; you see its hand; you hear a noise or a shudder. Spielberg’s brilliant at the slow build, and it was both scary and entrancing. When I was a teenager, it seemed like the best thing that could ever happen – a little, friendly alien jumping out of your garden shed.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: MSN Review

imageJames Bond has a licence to kill. Jason Bourne has his amnesia. And Austin Powers… well, he has really dodgy teeth. Yet when it comes to George Smiley, the nondescript, withdrawn and unprepossessing hero of John le Carré’s spy fiction, there’s really just the one thing that defines him – the thick-rimmed, chunky set of spectacles that make him look more of a mole than any of the KGB infiltrators it is his job and sworn duty to uncover.

For many, those glasses will always perch on the nose of Alec Guinness, so indelible was his portrayal of Smiley in the BBC’s 1979 adaptation of le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Thanks to Tomas Alfredson’s gripping new film version of the author’s 1974 novel, though, there’s a new Smiley in town – and his name is Gary Oldman.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a pitch-perfect vision of 70s England


The endless smoking and whisky-drinking, the grim, floppy burgers at Wimpy, the bleached-out colours, the grey, wide-lapelled, three-piece suits, the beige filing cabinets, the all-round heroic squalor…

They are all caught perfectly in the new film version of John Le Carré’s 1974 novel, which is released on Friday. Even the theme music is spot on – the composer appears to have been inspired by the sympathetically mournful horn section from The Sweeney.

The acting, too, is nicely understated, with no one trying to hog the limelight. And, familiar as Le Carré’s plot is, it whirs along, slowly but grippingly, beneath the layers of correct surface detail. It’s a pleasingly complex plot, but never wilfully obscure; nor has it been dumbed down to patronise the cinema audience.

Halle Berry braves Scottish weather on set of Cloud Atlas

imageHollywood star Halle Berry braved cool showery weather as she filmed scenes for a new movie in Scotland.

The actress is on location in Glasgow working on Cloud Atlas, which comes out next year.

The city is standing in for 1970s San Francisco and vintage American cars and US sign posts can be seen in some streets in the centre.

Dressed in indigo flares, a beige jacket and brown high heeled boots, Halle shot scenes with actor Keith David today.

Between takes she wore a long puffy black coat to keep warm.

Cloud Atlas is based on British author David Mitchell’s best-selling 2004 novel, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

The unconventionally-structured tale of interlinking narratives charts the story of one soul across the centuries.

Newsreel: protest in motion

Alex Reuben’s new documentary Newsreel is a strikingly contemporary journey through the streets of a London.


Back in 2008, I wrote about a rather good documentary called Routes in which its English director Alex Reuben took a road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans to document the many and varied forms of music and dance that flourished in the Deep South.

It was a riveting journey, parts of it filmed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that highlighted the role rhythm played in countless communities, but also the continued existence of rich folk cultures in which music was still a very real expression of both affirmation and defiance. “Someone,” I concluded my short review, “should undertake a similar journey through Britain.”

Green Lantern takes US box office top spot

Sci-fi blockbuster Green Lantern snatched the top spot at the US box office thanks to its $52.6 million debut this weekend.


The Marvel comic book adaptation starring Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds beat director J.J. Abrams’ well-received sci-fi movie Super 8 to the number one slot. Super 8 slipped to second place with takings of $21.2 million.

However, despite its stellar start, Green Lantern hasn’t managed to beat X-Men: First Class in the money stakes – with the latest X-Men movie taking $4 million more when it was released a few weeks ago.

‘Your Highness’ makes Benny Hill look tasteful. What’s happened to Hollywood’s creative elite?

By now, anybody who wanted to see Your Highness in cinemas has probably done so already, and realised how nightmarish the damn thing is. It’s unfunny, dull, and has an astonishingly regressive attitude towards women.


Decent actresses like Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel are reduced to trophies to either be won or stared at – and that’s leaving aside the gratuitous boobage, which reaches a degree even Benny Hill would find tedious.

Now, plenty of people have said this already – but there’s a lot more not to love. It’s not just that it took the fantastically beautiful landscape of Northern Ireland, where I’m from, and reduced it to the background for such grim and tawdry shenanigans. No, there’s a deeper and more worrying problem with Your Highness: just what does it say about today’s men? Co-writer and star Danny McBride is 36, as is director David Gordon Green, and co-star James Franco is 32. What do they do? Make a film revelling in the eighties fantasy movies of their youths, replete with the kind of penis jokes and gay panic that a 12-year-old would find immature.

Can Kill List breathe life into Britain’s film industry?

After years of gloom, the buzz around Ben Wheatley’s occult chiller suggests British audiences are finally developing a taste for British film


Few things can be as wince-inducing as the patriotic hubbub around British film in award season. Viewed from this side of the Atlantic, the Oscars often become a long obsessive fret about Kate Winslet’s prospects for best supporting actress, while the Baftas do away with even the chance of national disappointment by reserving two prizes for we plucky Brits alone. It’s enough to give you pause when you’re about to reach for the plastic Union Jack bowler hat and sing the praises of British cinema. But perhaps there comes a time you have to.

Today sees the release of Kill List, the much-discussed second film from Brighton director Ben Wheatley. By yesterday lunchtime, its weekend shows had already begun to sell out, the fervent whispers that greeted its first festival screenings having snowballed since into that most precious and unreliable commodity: buzz.

Top 5 spanks in the movies

Keira Knightley isn’t the only star to have her derrière tanned in the name of cinema.


Secretary (Steven Shainberg, 2002)

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s ingénue-with-a-screw-loose takes up a job as a typist with James Spader’s hotshot lawyer, only to find herself entering into an extravagantly sado-masochistic relationship with him. Cue more spanking than you can shake a stick at (as it were), in a film that’s surprisingly charming given how full-on a lot of the scenes are.

Kill Bill: Vol 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

In a comically bathetic close to a spectacular fight Uma Thurman’s indestructible killer scythes off a cowering assailant’s sword inch by inch, before flipping him (and gender norms) over and giving his rump a jolly good seeing-to with the side of her sabre. As she amusingly tells him, landing a spank with each word, “This! Is! What! You! Get! For! F***ing!! Around! With! Yakuzas!”

Apollo 18, review

Tim Robey wishes they’d made a proper movie out of “found footage” horror Apollo 18.


Billed as Blair Witch goes to the moon, this may be a bridge too far for “found footage” horror flicks, and certain isn’t a patch on this very week’s Troll Hunter. The fixed and multiple cameras create one hell of a headache, not least for the editors: sensory frazzling soon produces tedium, as three American astronauts, played by no one you recognise, go into orbit and kind of mill around waiting for the money shots.

Keep your eyes peeled on any stray moon rocks, which have a habit of sprouting legs and scuttling about the place like spiders from Mars – David Bowie may or may not be calling the shots in a crater. (He’s not.) There are some good, nervy images of the moon’s surface bubbling up with these things, and the last reel gains some tension when one of the ’nauts gets infected with psycho-itis, while the other two try to scarper. It’s not awful – you just wish they’d made a proper movie out of it.

This Arthur remake is one too many


No one has been asking for a remake of Arthur. The 1981 screwball comedy that starred Dudley Moore as a drunken English heir falling for a working-class New Yorker is fondly remembered – and is worth delaying going to bed for when it shows up on late-night television – but it’s hardly a comedy classic that demands revision or reinterpretation. Still! Russell Brand needs a vehicle to break America!



Arthur preens and yammers away like a spivvier Jim Carrey – it’s not at all charming. Rating:

12A cert, 109 min; Dir: Jason Winer; starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner.



A tenaciously observed and a quietly absorbing ethnography about a pair of shepherds. Rating: * * *

Sweetgrass – “recorded” rather than directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash – is a tenaciously observed and a quietly absorbing ethnography about a pair of shepherds leading some 3,000 sheep on a 150-mile journey up into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture.



With ‘Thor’, director Kenneth Branagh forsakes Shakespeare to transform the hero of Norse legend into a space-travelling Viking . Rating:

Budgets soar, effects run rampant, but novelty is drying up in superhero flicks – the costumes must be starting to lose their elastic. When the next Spider-Man promises to return us to Peter Parker’s school days, thereby effectively remaking Sam Raimi’s “old” one from way back in the Jurassic mists of 2002, it’s hard not to feel a premature sense of déjà vu.



The masterminds behind Paranormal Activity and Saw have created this jumpy and ludicrous thriller. Rating:

The masterminds behind the first Saw and Paranormal Activity join forces on Insidious for a bump-in-the-night shocker, which plays out in such a high, trilling key of baroque anxiety it’s both jumpy and ludicrous.

The Veteran


Tobey Kebbell’s performance proves beyond doubt that he can carry a film. Rating: * *

Cedar Rapids


Miguel Arteta’s indie comedy starts sweetly enough but becomes paradoxically stuck-up. Rating:

It’s not much of a stretch for Ed Helms to go from his mild-mannered dentist in The Hangover to the resolutely dorky insurance salesman here,

Fast & Furious 5


Director Justin Lin has given the street-racing franchise legs.

Prepare to witness two bollards being clonked together, as Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson square off in a movie at last. It’s a cosmic event, like some freak planetary collision.

Bernardo Bertolucci: ‘I thought my film-making was over’

‘For the last two or three years, I’d been thinking I wouldn’t be able to do any more movies,’ says Bernardo Bertolucci Photo: AGF s.r.l. / Rex Features
By David Gritten 5:00PM BST 14 Apr 2011

He is 71 now, and has received more than his share of critical and public praise since he shot his first film, The Grim Reaper, half a century ago. But the rush to honour the great Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci is currently more urgent than ever before.

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