Produced by: Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Written by: Richard Curtis
Edited by: Nick Moore
Cinematography by: Michael Coulter
Music by: Craig Armstrong
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Colin Firth, Lúcia Moniz, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Heike Makatsch, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kris Marshall, Abdul Salis, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Olivia Olson, Claudia Schiffer, Rowan Atkinson
It wasn’t too long ago that director Garry Marshall was trying to suffocate us with an onslaught of celebrity-packed rom-coms that crammed in as many storylines and cameos as possible. I managed to avoid these movies up until the lead up to New Year’s Eve 2012, when I promised my stepsister I would review Marshall’s film named after the holiday. It was as bad as I was expecting, but my expectations were even lower at that time because I had also realized that the movie was an unabashed knock off of Love Actually, a British film that pretty much follows the same concept as Marshall’s later films, including the concept of centering it around a major holiday (Christmas) – only, in this case, the movie actually does some justice to the fluffy, audience-ensnaring concept. Read more…
Produced by: Greg Brenman, Jonathan Finn
Written by: Lee Hall
Edited by: John Wilson
Cinematography by: Brian Tufano
Music by: Stephen Warbeck (original score)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood, Stuart Wells, Nicola Blackwell, Adam Cooper
I’ve never been the manliest guy around. Just the other night, I watched E.T. and, yes, I totally cried at the end. I’ve never been super aggressive, and I’ve never been interested in being an aggressive person apart from feigning it for my own amusement – because I think it’s a little bit ridiculous, you see. Growing up in a super-conservative household and around super-conservative people, however, my not playing sports was somewhat of a point of contention for a lot of people. Contention was actually pretty frequent. Most of the time, people just drooled over my size and asked me why I wasn’t playing football, then acting like I was crazy when I said I wasn’t interested. (I was always fairly big for my age, and, at nearly 27, I am probably only 1 ½ inches taller now than I was in 7th grade.) Other times, it could get a bit nastier, with various names being lobbed my way. (Some kids and even some adults are just jerks.) Read more…
Produced by: Piers Wenger, Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Patrick Spence, Heidi Thomas
Written by: Heidi Thomas
Edited by: Adam Recht
Cinematography by: Peter Greenhalgh
Music by: Kevin Sargent
Starring: Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige, Lucy Boynton, Richard Griffiths, Emilia Fox, Marc Warren, Victoria Wood, Eileen Atkins, Peter Bowles, Heather Nicol
Based on the novel Ballet Shoes: A Story of Three Children on the Stage by Noel Streatfeild
Remember that scene in You’ve Got Mail, where Kathleen’s store shuts down and she goes to the Fox Books and tearfully helps out a Fox Books customer desperately looking for “the Shoe books” that the store clerk has no idea about? “I’d start with Ballet Shoes because it’s my favorite, although Skating Shoes is completely wonderful,” she sobs. It’s one of the best scenes in that movie, because it shows how passionate Kathleen was about the job she had just lost and how the books she sold weren’t merely a means to a profit, but a means to make the lives of others better.
When I requested that my friends recommend some movies for me to review on Facebook, feeling rather uncreative and unchallenged in my own choices lately, this was the first of the recommendations that was something I hadn’t ever even considered watching before. (My recent review of Oscar was recommended in person and inspired my Facebook solicitation, which led to my reviewing The Road, as well, though I already owned that.) Read more…
Produced by: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Edited by: Chris Dickens
Cinematography by: Jess Hall
Music by: David Arnold
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon, Olivia Colman, Karl Johnson, Bill Bailey, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy
(Review is very mildly spoilery, though you’d have to be a dolt not to catch on quickly or guess what’s going to happen. You’ve been warned, regardless!)
“Funny, but took a while to build up to the comedy. Honestly, it could’ve been a lot more ridiculous in its humor, but it wasn’t bad. Shaun still rocks, though.”
That’s the entirety of my 3-star Flixster/Rotten Tomatoes review, which I wrote years ago and recently rediscovered while preparing for this review. I remember the mindset that was informing this review. I had watched a few sneak peak clips back when IGN.com used to be my primary source for movie news, and those brief, minutes-long clips had set my expectations for the entirety of the film as being something more akin to Reno 911 in an English countryside than what the film actually turned out to be: a loving tribute to ridiculous buddy cop/crime films – as filtered through the English countryside. Read more…
Produced by: Enrique López-Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich; Bernard Bellew (co-producer); Danny Boyle, Alex Garland (executive producers)
Written by: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique López Lavigne, Jesús Olmo
Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak
Music by: John Murphy
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Idris Elba
28 Weeks Later lacks the originality, rawness, and, frankly, the mystique of Danny Boyle’s first film, but it’s a sequel that figures out a perfect way to have the rage virus return and deliver even more terrifying thrills. New director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo remains faithful to the tone of the first film yet focuses on entirely new characters and new ideas in a story that nonetheless continues where the last film left off. But while 28 Days Later told the story of a group of individuals coming together to form what could effectively be called a family, 28 Weeks Later intriguingly stands as a counterpoint to that narrative, weaving into its plot a story about a family torn apart by deceit and violence, and the two children who find themselves caught up in a system that, though well intentioned, may not be able to save them from a horrible fate.
(Due to the essay-like nature of this review, please know that SPOILERS are necessary for my examination, and, thus, do lie ahead!) Read more…
Produced by: Mel Gibson, Alan Ladd, Jr., Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety
Written by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, Angus Macfadyen
Music by: James Horner
Whenever I ask people what their favorite films are, undoubtedly one out of maybe five people has listed Braveheart in their list. That’s not a 100% scientific assessment, now, but you get my point. People really like this film!
The thing is, I’ve never been able to relate. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the film. It was just that… well, I had never seen it. Much like The Godfather and Casablanca, this was one of those all time classics that, despite being a massive film fan, I had somehow managed to not see.
Eventually, I did see The Godfather and its sequels, and I did see Casablanca, and both sets of films definitely lived up to their reputations (including The Godfather Part III being the most pointless sequel). But I continued to remain uninitiated into the clan of Braveheart fans, and I continued to be gawked at by its respective members as they questioned my validity as not just a film fan, but as a human being – ”You mean, you have never seen Braveheart?” they all gasped! Read more…
Produced by: Nira Park
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Peter Serafinowicz, Jessica Stevenson
Music by: Pete Woodhead, Daniel Mudford
I’m not going to pretend like Shaun of the Dead is some masterpiece of cinema. The movie speaks for itself — it is a masterpiece of comedy, no pretending needed! There’s just something so fun, so delightfully silly about the concept of a romantic comedy set during a zombie outbreak. I mean, seriously, how could you resist?
First off, if you haven’t seen the film, don’t watch this video. Just go borrow, rent, or even buy a copy of this amazing horror film, and come back to let this scene sink in. Go on. Do it! … NOW!
Have you come back yet? Okay, then you’re ready to join the rest of us enlightened ones and watch the following clip:
This is one of my favorite horror films. Hands down. And this scene is quite possibly the best in the entire film.
Though the video quality is crude in the stream, if you’ve made it this far, then you’ve seen it and know that this is just how the film looks. (And if you didn’t, you’re a stinking liar!) This English-made horror film was made using a Canon XL-1 digital camera, which was first produced in 1997 and continued to be in production until 2001, just one year before this film’s release. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trainspotting) deliberately chose this aging technology to give the relatively low-budget film its distinctive, gritty look.
The setting of the film is, as you may have guessed, 28 days after a devastating plague swept through England. Jim (Cillian Murphy, Batman Begins, Inception) is a London courier who was previously struck by a car on his route and plunged into a deep coma before the world came crumbling down around him. The world he awakens to is vacant madness, as the hospital he finds himself in is trashed and abandoned. He cries out for anyone still around. He’s weak and disoriented and hasn’t eaten for quite a while. Some sugary sodas give him some strength as he leaves the hospital, only to find more emptiness. London has been abandoned completely, with not a soul in sight. His cries go unanswered as debris gives him a hint as to what has happened. Missing people. Vigils for those departed. Old newspapers telling of a mysterious infestation.
This scene was filmed in the early hours of the morning. The story goes that it was so early, the filmmakers were able to capture it all while police barely had to block traffic to create the eerie effect of having a completely motionless London. The toppled bus was placed, filmed, and returned to normal within 20 minutes, which is made all the more impressive when you consider that London is pretty much England’s New York City. If you thought that the silent nature of New York City was creepy in I Am Legend, then you’re going to be completely blown away by this green screen and visual effects-free scene.
It only gets more and more unnerving the more the music kicks in. Featuring an edited version of the Godspeed You! Black Emperor song “East Hastings”, the pulsing bass, plodding keys, and, of course, the interweaving guitar combine to project Jim’s confusion and helplessness and help to sell the absolute terror one would face in this situation. The track has since gone on to be the de facto theme to the film series, showing up throughout this film’s sequel, 28 Weeks Later, which is also worth a look.
One of the great things about this scene, though, is how utterly scary it is, despite the infected having not even really made their terrifying debut. This emphasizes that the fear in this film isn’t just from the potential the characters face in getting infected or torn apart, but also their need for companionship and their fear of feeling lonely or abandoned in a world gone mad. 28 Days Later is a film about a family coming together, but at this point, Jim has no one to help him here. You don’t hear him crying out for explanations. Instead of crying out “Why?” or “How?” he simply cries out desperately, “Hello!?” And, as you watch the film, these words continue to echo throughout, as they continue to search for hope and for their cries to be answered…