The Lady In The Van (2016) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

The Lady In The Van (2016) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
As seems to always be the way now, one of the best films of the previous year ends up being British and one that I miss on it’s release (See Pride and Sunshine On Leith).  It’s also simply amazing that Maggie Smith didn’t get at least an Oscar nomination being that she delivers what is probably one of the best performances of the year (and her career). This is Maggie Smiths film and she owns ever second she’s in.  That said the rest of the cast fair pretty well and the story, as quickly delivered as it is, is compelling and charming enough to make this one hell of a film overall.

Best Bit: Maggie Smith

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Sunshine On Leith, Full Monty, Pride

 


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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – A Skywalker Saga Quick Capsule Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – A Skywalker Saga Quick Capsule Review

Collections Quick Review Star Wars

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The danger is always that when you hype up a film to such a degree that it can only ever disappoint.  And episode 7 its probably the most hyped film ever.  To live up to this hype It would have to be special.  It would have to deliver.  And you know what – for the most part it does.  The Force Awakens is the Star Wars films I wanted.  Great new characters, throw backs to the great characters of old, a simple story, intrigue, a great bad guy and a plot that doesn’t feed you every little detail.  It’s not perfect – far from it – BUT in spirit and execution this film delivers.  It feels like a Star Wars film. It looks like a Star Wars film.  It IS a Star Wars Films.

Best Bit: BB8!

If You Liked this Try: Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 

 


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Star Wars: The Force Awakens  – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The danger is always that when you hype up a film to such a degree that it can only ever disappoint.  And episode 7 its probably the most hyped film ever.  To live up to this hype It would have to be special.  It would have to deliver.  And you know what – for the most part it does.  The Force Awakens is the Star Wars films I wanted.  Great new characters, throw backs to the great characters of old, a simple story, intrigue, a great bad guy and a plot that doesn’t feed you every little detail.  It’s not perfect – far from it – BUT in spirit and execution this film delivers.  It feels like a Star Wars film. It looks like a Star Wars film.  It IS a Star Wars Films.

Best Bit: BB8!

Worth A Rewatch: Yes

If You Liked this Try: Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 

 


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The Guest (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

The Guest (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Guest is rather good.  Actually it’s excellent.  Which is a good thing because at times you’re not quite sure whether this film will end up being as bold as it sets out.  With a winning central performance by Dan Stevens, some top notch directing from Wingard and enough bat shit mental moments to reference for a long time to come, The Guard is truly one of the most unique films of the year.

Best Bit: Stevens central performance.

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent

If You Liked this Try: Drive, You’re Next, The Purge

 

Rating:


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World’s Greatest Dad (2009) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

World’s Greatest Dad (2009) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Damn. There’s nothing like watching a career best performance to make you REALLY realise how you are going to miss someone.  It’s hard to watch a Robin Williams film now with no degree of post death hyperbole or cushioned, romantic, teary eyes critical love.  The sadness of his passing make sit almost impossible.  Yet beyond all this, his performance here is nothing short of excellent. Touching, heart breaking and fragile, Williams gives a more nuanced performance that his more audience friendly roles he will be remembered for. Which is a shame as World’s Greatest Dad could well be his most intimate look into himself, into Robin Williams the flawed genius.  Watch for Williams but stay for the really rather exellant film he’s part of.

Best Bit: Robin Williams

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: God Bless America, Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo

 

Rating:

 


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The Boxtrolls (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

The Boxtrolls (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
In this day and ace of CGI animation all looking the same, it’s easy to forget how much effort goes into making a film like The Boxtrolls. That effort doesn’t make it a good film however,.  For that you need top quality voice acting, a good director, innovative and exciting set pieces, a dark humour and a cracking script.  Which is lucky because The Boxtrolls has all this in spades. Okay so it’s not as good as Coraline for me but that’s only because that film was so good.  The Boxtrolls is a joy – just be weary at times it was far too much for my 5 year old daughter to take.

Best Bit: Kingsley is superb

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try:  Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Wallace & Gromit Curse Of The Warerabbit

 

Rating:


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Sunshine On Leith (2013) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Sunshine On Leith (2013) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Well that was  a surprise… a musical based on the works of The Proclaimers (whose music I detest as a general rule) not only managed to be charming and funny but also made me actually want to buy their music.  More over Sunshine On Leith, full of great choreography, charing performances and a heart missing from modern day filming,  ended up as probably one of the top ten films of 2013.  Who saw that coming?  Highly recommended.

Best Bit: 500 Miles.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Buy

If you liked this try: Little Shop Of Horrors, Blues Brothers, Rocky Horror Picture Show

 

Rating:

 


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What We Are In The Shadows (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

What We Are In The Shadows (2014) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Well that’s a disappointment.  A Man Bites Dog meets Spinal Tap style documentary about Vampires sounded like a winner but sadly, whilst it has it’s bloody moments, the film completely forgot to add any laughs, instead wallowing in it’s own cleverness.  There’s not much more to say… a comedy without laughs, a horror without scares, a film without interest… it’s all just a little bit too full of itself. Disappointing.

Best Bit: The Werewolf bit is as funny as it goes

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Borrow

If You Liked this Try: Man Bites Dog, Spinal Tap, Borat

 

Rating:

 

Paddington – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Paddington – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Paddington is a joy of a film. There’s no other way to describe it.  A superbly realised kids film but with a humour and charm that will appeal to adults also.  From it’s fully realised lead character to it’s excellent cast (Whishaw as the titular bear stands out) who all connect so strongly with the audience.  Even without this,  however, the filmmakers throw in enough goofy set pieces to make you laugh out loud.  If I had ANY issues with the film it would be that maybe the FX don’t quite live up to the budget’s realities BUT this is a very small point in what is really a wonderful film.  Both for kids AND adults.

Best Bit: Paddington settles in to the house!

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Shaun The Sheep, The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life

 

Rating:

 


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Grosse Point Geek: The Top Ten Performances That Should Have Been Nominated For An Oscar But Weren’t…

Grosse Point Geek: The Top Ten Performances That Should Have Been Nominated For An Oscar But Weren’t…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek

I don’t like the Oscars much -the ceremony drags on for hours and is hideously boring,  and crammed with cringe worthy speeches (Gwynneth Paltrow and Tom Hanks being some of the worst offenders).  Every time the nominations are announced, someone that should have been a shoo in for a nod gets criminally snubbed (the list is endless) , plus invariably they don’t make sense.

Now not every actor can get a nomination for a good performance but there are some that have been so shockingly over looked by the academy  that it beggars belief. Therefore having given this a great deal of thought  i decided to  put together a list of actors that should have been nominated for Oscar but wernt – read on:

 * * * * * *

1. Film: Seven (1995)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor (Brad Pitt).

So brutal in parts its almost a horror and featuring a twist ending that’s never been bettered, Seven will stand the test of time as the greatest serial killer film ever made. Unflinchingly dark, most of the praise went to David Fincher’s brilliant direction and the admittedly outstanding Morgan Freeman –  however its Pitt as the arrogant, idealistic Det. David Mills  that should have been far more recognized.

Best scene: Ably holding his own against Freeman (no easy feat) witness  his gut wrenching transformation in the films climax, from cocksure cop to utterly broken man when he realizes just exactly what’s in the box – outstanding.

  * * * * * *

2. Film: Man On Fire (2004)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor-Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington is just superb here, as suicidal bodyguard John Creasey in Tony Scott’s cracking action thriller.

Fast, furious and brutal, Man On Fire managed to be a blistering actioner and showcased a fantastic turn from Washington, who manages to pull off a very complex character whilst making him sympathetic even when he’s torturing half the criminals in Mexico.

Best Scene: A roll of duct tape, some eye wateringly placed placed explosive and a bent Mexican cop who desperately wishes “he had more time”.

  * * * * * *

3. Film: The Big Lebowski

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting  Actor-John Turturro.

A film that flopped on release but has since  passed into legend as one of the funniest and most obscure comedies of all time. The Coen brothers masterpiece features an entire myriad of bonkers characters, from Jeff Bridges as the Dude to Tara Reid as porn star Bunny, all brilliant  – but none more so than John Turturro as the bowling ball licking, do-rag wearing pederast, Jesus Quintana.

Of all the directors in Hollywood, only the Coens could make sex offender seem funny, and every time i watch this film ive almost busted a gut laughing at Turturro’s manic performance. Greasy, foul mouthed, pretentious and strutting like a peacock, he’s only in three scenes – and he owns every one of them.

Best Scene: Threatening to shove a gun up John Goodman’s backside until the trigger goes “click”.

  * * * * * *

4. Film: True Romance

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor – Gary Oldman.

In the wake of Reservoir Dogs  – studios were in a feeding frenzy for any scripts written by Quentin Tarantino. One of which was True  Romance – funny, profane and very violent, its hard to decide which of its cast should have received the most praise. Christian Slater has never been better as the slightly unhinged Clarence, Dennis Hopper is wonderful as Slater’s doomed father, and Brad Pitt (again) is hilarious as the permanently stoned Floyd. However, its Blighty’s own Gary Oldman, appearing in just two scenes as psychopath pimp Drexl who steals the show. One eyed, horribly scarred, with bad teeth, greasy dreadlocks, he is evil incarnate, and Oldman is terrifying in the role  – bypassed by the Academy it took them until 2011  to finally reward him with a nomination  for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy  -how did it take them so long??.

Best Scene: The strip club confrontation- “it aint white boy day is it?”.

  * * * * * *

5. Film: Good Will Hunting

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting actor – Ben Affleck.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck deservedly won Oscars for their self penned screenplay about a violently self destructive maths genius. Featuring some superb performances -Damon, Minnie Driver and Robin Williams all excel, but, in a career best performance, Affleck is just wonderful as Chucky, Will’s fiercely loyal, foul mouthed best friend. Getting all the best lines and being the only one who finally gets Will to realize just how much his genius is a gift from the gods, Affleck has never been better. Damon, Driver  and Williams were all nominated for their performances  – but if anyone deserved more recognition for their acting in this film it was Big Ben.

Best Scene: The building site lecture – where Chucky tells Will what the best part his day is – wonderful and more than a bit heart breaking to boot.

  * * * * * *

6. Film: Rocky Balboa (2006)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone)

When it was announced that Rocky would be making a sixth bow on the big screen, the sound of collective groans was almost deafening. Its dreadful predecessor -Rocky V – had effectively killed the franchise, Stallone hadn’t had a hit in years and was stuck making some frankly godawful films (Avenging Angelo being a particular low point). So it was to everyone’s surprise that when Rocky Mark 6 came out, what was expected to be something of a joke turned out to be anything but.

Wisely going back to basics, Sly portrays Rocky as a sad,  heart broken widower (Adrian has died), desperate to connect with his yuppie son (Milo Ventimiglia) and pining for the glory days of his former life as a world class boxer. Its brilliant stuff – beautifully photographed, skilfully directed and superbly acted by Stallone, Ventimiglia and Burt Ward as Paulie.

With the obligatory training montage, a fantastic boxing match and the kind of jump for joy feel-good factor rarely seen in films today  -this was, without doubt, one of the best nights ive ever had at the cinema – lets just say that grown men were known to cry!

Best Scene – Rocky’s heart rending confession to Paulie how bitter he is about Adrian dying and his struggles with the “beast” inside him.

  * * * * * *

7. Film:  The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor- Sean Astin

Ok ROTK deservedly won just about all its categories at the 2005 Oscars  – but, despite this the only actor to ever get a nomination was Ian Mckellan as Gandalf in The Fellowship of The Ring.

With its huge cast its very hard to say who  gives the best performance – the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood and Bernard Hill are all superb, but for me the standout was Sean Astin as Sam.

Now some American actors can do good British accents – but these are the types usually adopted in films like Shakespeare in Love and Gladiator.

Here, however, the very American Sean Astin did the impossible and pulled off an absolutely pitch perfect west country accent, and on top of that  turned in a frankly outstanding  performance that anchored the entire trilogy.

Best Scene: ROTK – Unable to go any further, and weighed down by the  ring, Frodo (Elijah Wood) collapses with exhaustion on the slopes of Mount Doom. Refusing to let him give up, Sam  gently tells Frodo about the wonders of the shire, then in one last gasp of strength, painfully hauls his beloved friend over his shoulder and makes his way up the mountain to destroy the one ring.

  * * * * * *

 8. Tombstone (1994)

Should have been nominated for: Best Supporting Actor: Val Kilmer.

In 1994 there were two adaptations of the story of Wyatt Earp.  Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner’s version was a rather bloated and overlong affair, but George P Cosmato’s Tombstone was by far the clear winner.

Ok it isn’t Shakespeare, there are some gaping plot holes, some of the editing is a bit iffy and by all accounts it was a nightmare shoot ( original director Kevin Jarre got the boot early on).

Despite this, it’s a very entertaining  film. Kurt Russell is very good as Wyatt Earp , as are Michael Biehn and Powers Boothe as the main villains.

However its Kilmer that shines the most  as the Latin spewing,  tuberculosis ridden Doc Holliday. Stealing every scene he’s in and walking away with the entire film, this was the role that got Kilmer out from the shadow of Top Gun and showed him as an actor of real range and versatility. Criminally overlooked by the academy, its just a damn shame he never capitalised on his success here and unfortunately  is now to be found in various bargain basement DTV efforts.

Best Scene:  Ensconced in the local saloon and  drunk as a monkey, Holliday slurringly  trades insults (in Latin) with Michael Biehn’s Johnny Ringo, who then tries to get one over on him with a macho display of handgun twirling.  Not to be outdone, Holliday brings the house down by doing the exact same thing  – but with a whiskey cup. A cracking scene that perfectly sets up the story for the bullet riddled action to come.

  * * * * * *

9. In The Line Of Fire (1993)

Should have been nominated for: Best Actor: Clint Eastwood

For me Clint Eastwood is an actor that has just got better with everything film he appears in. Now everyone says that his greatest performance was in Unforgiven – and undoubtedly he thoroughly deserved a best actor nomination for his portrayal as the reformed outlaw and mass murderer William Munny.

In my opinion though, the film where he impressed the most was as the aging secret service agent Frank Horrigan in Wolfgang Peterson’s In The Line Of Fire.

Haunted by his past failure to save JFK  and desperate to stop John Malkovich’s chameleon alike assassin from killing the current president, Clint has never been better.  Deceptively introducing  Horrigan as a standard,  by the numbers tough guy,  Eastwood superbly reveals him as a heartbroken tortured man who just needs that one last chance to redeem himself.

Best Scene: After being told he’s off the President’s security detail, Frank recounts to fellow agent Lily Raines(Rene Russo) what happened on that fateful day in Dallas. This is, without doubt the best acting you will ever see from Eastwood – just incredible.

  * * * * * *

10. Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Should have been nominated for: Best actor: Bruce Willis

Recent efforts by Bruce Willis have been utter rubbish – Die Hard 5 and GI Joe 2 were terrible, plus he seems to be starring in more and more DTV films that never see the inside of a cinema.

However in 1996 he gave an absolutely amazing performance as unhinged convict James Cole in Terry Gilliam’s post apocalyptic time travel masterpiece.

Completely shedding his usual smirking tough guy image, Willis  effortlessly brings range, depth and subtlety to a highly complex and sympathetic character,– all qualities that he has rarely utilised in future roles he’s played.

Best Scene: In a touching moment, after kidnapping  psychiatrist Madeline Stowe, the injured Cole hears music on the radio for the first time and revels in its beauty.

 

Author: Will Strong