Monday, 10 October 2011

Reviews still coming

Without home internet, many films I would have liked to have reviewed have now passed me by... it's going to be a big review round-up.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Film Review: Senna

(Directed by Asif Kapadia, running time 102 minutes)

For those of you lacking in the general knowledge of Formula One racing, one thing that always needs to be emphasized is just how dangerous it can be. The amount of real science and physical and mental effort, not to mention the skill it takes to not only win but avoid a serious injury or worse is part of the back bone of the race. Throughout the late 80s and early 90, a Brazilian driver named Ayrton Senna took the worldwide competition by storm. During this time he quickly raced his way through not only each Grand Pix as they came but also all the behind the scenes turmoil and politics that comes with most multi-million pound events, and become three time Formula One world champion and national hero is his native homeland. Despite being at the top of his game he was tragically killed in crash during San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

However unlike many documentaries that may feel the need to dwell on one’s passing, director Asif Kapadia has adopting a style of film making that instead not only takes the audience back to Senna’s heyday of racing but makes us feel as if we were there, experiencing everything as it unfolded. The entirety of film is made of real footage including official races, interviews, behind the scenes of each events, public appearances and even home movies all the while narrated by a substantial variety of figures ranging from managers, fellow drivers and newscasters who were not only experienced these events first hands but even knew the man himself well. No cutaways, no stationary studios interviews, not even shots of what anything looks like today, just footage of the time and place.

At first this approach may appear to be a series of dull stock footage, yet Kapadia has carefully filtered through what must be hours upon hours of footage in order to get down to the core and for it results in a gripping viewing experience that I wouldn’t say is on par with the most tense and dramatic fictional films as it’s a wholly different kind of experience and no doubt will be for many, even better. With this footage the audience can get a close enough picture of the inner workings of Formula One. Senna might have been a top F1 driver, but to make it there it appeared to take plenty of effort beyond just winning races. Even though he raced with McLaren, we quickly became at odds with his fellow McLaren driver the French Alain Prost, also a multiple F1 world champion, which at one point turned into a bitter rivalry. On top of this Senna was very vocal about some of the rules and on and off track issues, in many instances crashing and in another even being disqualified temporally suspended.

Yet even though is may seem this is a documentary made for the Formula One fan, beyond just the structure of the inner workings of the motor-sport we are given an insight to the man himself and those around him, often at times making footage seem almost character driven that while at odds with many, there is still underlying respect. However those who may wonder about his personal life, either due to a directorial decision, lack of footage or out of respect, little is actually known about the man off the track, with the documentary kick starting just as he enters Formula One. On hand this may seem limiting to those less enthusiastic about the motor-sport while on the other hand it doesn’t get bogged down with such details that may make the film appear a little too overly done at times, not being as if its trying to hard make the audience care. Off the track though, the film doesn’t skim on the crisis in Brazil, something that was very important about his public image, that in times of need is what helped make him seem like a beacon of hope in Brazil, in order to show others just why those in the F1 and elsewhere considered him an important figure outside of just being good at his passion. The documentary doesn’t paint him as some messiah, instead just how and why this man had become so popular. The narration itself is accompanied with a brief small subtitle as each give their story. The variety of the narration is what gives the tone legs, in that the contrasting view points allow a little more balance in what is at the end of the day a tribute as well.

Senna was deeply religious but also very much aware of the dangers. In fact, even though there hasn’t been a race related death since 1994, Kapadia also felt the need to portray this by not holding back with footage of other incidents such as Rubens Barrichello literally flying into the sidelines. Despite these occasional harrowing instances, they make the film more real than it already is. In regards to his aforementioned death behind the wheel, it actually (and in all honesty thankfully) doesn’t dwell on it as up to this point the film has been about his life as a racer and anything else might have seemed almost unnecessarily tarnishing. While we do get visuals on the brutal crash and finally his (elaborate) funeral, it is cut up with shots of each of those who attended and them with the man himself. Its pretty emotional stuff.

Without going overly sentimental and getting distracted by the personal details, this may seem less inviting to those other than F1 fans. However I feel Kapadia has not made this case by selecting and structuring the footage and narration that makes Senna inviting yet ultimately compelling. Some may not know much about the man himself, but this documentary does its best to do just that. As for F1 fans, its a no brainer as what we have here is a slice of motor sport history, one that I feel is a great viewing experience for all.

With narration from Ron Denis, Frank Williams, Alain Prost and many others.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Film Review Roundup: May-June

CASUAL NOTE: Busy work hindered any attempts to write up reviews for March and April. However is was somewhat barren anyway. Long story short of those that I saw:

True Grit = Instant western classic, Jeff Bridges always shines.
Source Code = Pretty dam good sci-fi with an unusual approach to science.
Adjustment Bureau = Great concept and well done but nothing special.
Rango = Brilliantly animated and with great characters even with a formulaic story.



(Directed by James Wan, running time 100 minutes)

The “usually” reliable Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play a couple of parents who are terrorized from house to house by an unknown apparition. Despite an incredibly stereotypical vintage haunted house meets possessed child premise that has been in bed with film more times than an even more incredibly stereotypical sexual metaphor, a number of well placed heart pounding jump scares and an overall eerily constructed sense of atmosphere gives Insidious a far more legitimate claim to being a “horror” film than most of the poorly scripted torture porn that seems to have fancied itself as such... even if it turns out that the manifestation of evil looks like a cross between Freddy Krueger and Darth Maul.

Also staring Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye and Angus Sampson.


(Directed by Joe Wright, running time 111 minutes)

Action adventure fresh from the United States... and United Kingdom... also Germany, this multicultural ride stars Saoirse Ronan as a teenage super agent “Hanna” trained since birth in secret by a CIA veteran played by Eric Bana, both of which quickly become independently on the run from agency forces led by Cate Blanchett. The national production mixture does lend itself to an entirely unique approach to the action genre to more than just the fact the deadly assassin is a young girl. It’s rather inconsistent style is both its saving grace and downfall at times where on one hand the film can be dark but seedy, action packed but erratic and well scripted but fast to leave plot points and characters. While far from perfect, overall Hanna is definitely one of the most intriguing films of its type, although at times you might even question just what that type of film is.

Also staring Tom Hollander, Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams.

Kung Fu Panda 2

(Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, running time 91 minutes)

Jack Black returns as the voice actor for one of his more likable characters Po the panda in one of Dreamworks’ more enjoyable series. Even though Po has already become a kung fu master, another lesson must be learned, this time finally tackling the issue of his origins that seem to tangle with a current hostile take over of China by a malevolent Peacock voiced by the delightfully over the top Gary Oldman. It’s all harmless fun with simple yet effective gags and some downright beautiful art design and set pieces. This time however Dustin Hoffman’s (in all honesty in-depth) Master Shifu takes a backseat to the less interesting Tigress voiced by Angelina Jolie as the supporting role and the effectively integrated Chinese philosophy of the original has been significantly lessened to make way for more action. Regardless, this is one of those few animated sequels that doesn’t drop the ball.

Plus Jean-Claude Van Dam voices a crocodile.

Also staring David Cross, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan.

X-Men: First Class

(Directed by Matthew Vaughn, running time 132 minutes)

Following the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men film franchise appeared close to the brink. Director Matthew Vaughn of Kick-Ass fame saves it from going under with what feels more like a reboot than a prequel. With a fresh young cast, First Class goes to the young adult years of Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectfully, both being interesting, complex and wholly likable portrayals of the classic Marvel characters. While the side characters may not share the same level of character development, they all do their parts justice with a more three-dimensional Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence and an effective villian of Sebastian Shaw played by the reliable Kevin Bacon as he attempts to kick start World War Three. With a fresh story-arc and more real drama, First Class is a truly well crafted superhero adventure.

Also staring Rose Bryne, Nicolas Hoult and Oliver Platt.


(Directed by Paul Feig, running time 125 minutes)

Yes that's right, I took a gamble.

Co-writer and lead star Kristen Wiig plays a down on her luck single women who is given the role of maid of honor when her best friend played by Maya Rudolph becomes engaged. What follows is a series of hectic and often at times futile attempts at preparation and pre-parties with the other bridemaids who are either desperate or socially suffocated, along with a "best friend" competition with another good friend to the bride to be played by Rose Bryne. There's plenty of unconventional antics on display including some toilet humor more akin to the male-orientated side of group comedy like The Hangover. While this is definitely not a generalization, due to the heavy female cast, there's also plenty of drama and romance thrown in for good measure including a series of "romantic" encounters between the lead actress and Chris O'Dowd IE Roy from The IT Crowd. Even though I will admit the script does occasionally drift beyond one's own personal tastes at times with the heavy handed dramatic moments, many instances seem to be immediately be remedied with some well timed comedy. Most likely better suited for the ladies.

Also staring Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey.

BY THE WAY has anyone noticed that Rose Byrne has appeared in THREE of these films?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Film Review: Thor

(Directed by Kenneth Branagh, running time 112 minutes)

NOTE: At time of writing, Thor is timetabled for the 27th April in the UK. I however was fortunate to catch an advance screening.

Back when the first Iron Man film came out, the post-credits teaser implicating the prospect of a full feature Avengers movie was nothing short of a geek’s exciment-induced heart attack. To be fair, even those outside of the realms of comic book geekdom, the prospect of witnessing a multi-million dollar budget epic of a super genius billionaire in a mech suit, a colossal monster so powered by rage that shooting him only pisses him off, an honor bound super soldier who single handedly won World War Two and the immortal Viking God of Thunder, all under the organization of a world wide military powerhouse lead by “mother fucking” Samuel L. Jackson... *breathe* should raise at least moderate to high interest from anyone.

The only folly of outing such a feat of film making so early would be the sheer weight of expectations from anything else connected and driving towards it. Case in point was Iron Man 2. While a perfectly well-done action adventure movie experience that gave us all the super-powered set-pieces and crazy yet likable characterization, at the end of the day one could not shake the feeling you were instead watching a mere Avengers prequel... or worse yet a feature length advertisement. While audiences still wait over Captain America’s first [legitimate] push on the big screen, here and now we have Thor.

From from the start however, unlike Iron Man 2, Thor is a near self contained story. The viking Gods are actually superbeings from another world who have protected mankind in the past. The “God” of thunder Thor played by a very buff Chris Hemsworth and heir to the throne of Asgard held by Odin played by the always classic Anthony Hopkins, is one the path to rule until his supposed arrogant war hunger against their ancient long foes the Frost Giants results in his exile to, surprise surprise planet Earth. After being scooped up by Jane Foster played by a now Oscar touting Natalie Portman, Thor attempts to regain his powers, all the while his brother Loki played by Tom Hiddleston secretly attempts to seize the throne for himself.

What I find perplexing however is while the above is more or less accurate summery of the narrative, one third of the film dramatically leads up to his fall from Asgard, complete with sweeping showcases of it’s beautiful world and set-piece battles between our hero and the monstrous Frost Giants. It’s all impressing stuff that really gives you a feel for this hyper-fantasy version of the old Norse tales. It’s actually surprising just how much of this element was left out of marketing just given how much imagination and creative effort went into bringing this city of gods to life. Perhaps they didn’t want to spoil anything but the history of cinema would disagree with that theory. Because of this it makes his harsh new situation on our humble little rock all the more underwhelming in comparison. It’s almost jarring when in one scene you witness a golden hall of super-vikings brandish their magnificent armory before flying to battle through the cosmos then cutting back to Stellan Skarsgard downing bottles of cheap booze in a shack bar. It’s as if the film is trying to one up itself, the lesser of the two being the real character drama.

Despite some personal reservations upon first viewing the trailer complete with questionable attempts at anger and sorrow, the acting, for the most part is serviceable at least. While some attempts at humor fall flat and the romantic sub-plot is forgettable in the grand scheme of things, such issues thankfully don’t distract from the real sense of purpose. In fact the entire drama can best be summarized as a family-matter... an epic one if that. Returning to my previous point of the jarring scenes, same can also be said about the characterization. For example, along for the ride in Thor’s adventure are Sif and the Warriors Three, a group of heroes who on the surface make up the archetypes of warriors. The lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) is more of a valkyrie, Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) the large viking, Fandral (Joshua Dallas) the swashbuckler and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) the mongol. These characters receive enough screen time to display their character traits, dialogue and exposition that at one point I actually found myself rather wanting to instead watch a feature length film about them. In fact, it’s only after they themselves come to Earth does the setting become relevant... that and a giant magical automaton that decimates a small town. On top of this, the character of Loki is one of the more interesting villains in the super hero world. While far from the best (you can’t touch the Joker), much of his motivation is fueled by a classic case of being in the shadow of Thor, the second son, the odd one out, all being a nice change change up from the usual “because I’m evil”, even if it does border on such initially.

As you’ve probably picked up on, the narrative in terms of setting simply doesn’t know where it wants to stay. And here’s my theory why: even though it’s a self contained story, the link to Earth was mandatory in order for Thor to properly link in with, you guessed it; the upcoming Avengers film. Yet, even with this burden, the narrative is fairly coherent and does host some believable and likable characters... and even though the costume design is near fitting with the original comic book incarnations, that would be saying something. Further more unlike Iron Man 2, besides the heavy presence of S.H.I.E.L.D., the references to a wider Marvel universe are kept to a minimum, but what pandering we do get does still intrigue. Besides one mildly humorous moment in which one agent remarks over whether the giant automaton is one of Stark’s creations, the audience is actually subtly, if unknowingly introduced to another member of the upcoming Avengers; Hawkeye played by the excellent Jeremy Renner of the Hurt Locker fame. And yes there is a post-credit teaser, yet I doubt it would make much sense to a non-Marvel affiliated person such as myself.

Even without knowledge of the house of Stan Lee (with an obligatory cameo of course), Thor definitely holds up next to it’s current super hero siblings with enough well-crafted fantasy and classic Marvel wit to hold more than the attention of the uninitiated, while also being able to construct a real narrative around all the visuals and action, a proud enough feat. For those who are however affiliated however, you’re probably going to get even more excited for the future.

Also starring Colm Feore, Idris Elba and Kat Dennings.

FYI, this film didn't have much to compete with from my previous experiences with Thor.

WARNING - So bad, it's good:

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Film Review Roundup: January-February

The King’s Speech

(Directed by Tom Hooper, running time 188 minutes)

Colin Firth is up for a string of awards the second time round after A Single Man playing King George VI, thrust into his royal duties who with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush attempts to treat his stutter, which as a public speaker for the entire British Empire, such an issue is hardly good for morale. Despite being hit over the head with the heavy historical background and pure drama, the most interesting exchanges come from the dialogue itself between Firth and Rush, with the latter being the more memorable performance with his wit and light approach, occasionally stepping over into the comedic spotlight and considering all the just praise Firth has received, you know you’re getting a genuine top notch character piece.

Also starring Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon and Helena Bonham Carter.

127 Hours

(Directed by Danny Boyle, running time 94 minutes)

Throwing us another curve ball in terms of premise, Danny Boyle continues the tradition of delivering new and interesting pieces of film. This time around it’s the true story of Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, a mountain climber who is trapped in an open cavern after a rock wedges his arm against the wall, left there for over 5 days before amputating his own arm. Playing most of the film solo, Franco doesn’t hold back with his performance of the real-life counter-part, going through stages of desperation, anger, sorrow and even partial insanity. The film doesn’t hold back in emphasizing the gravity of his peril, with the most unforgettable moment being the said amputation of his arm. Despite the many violent films I’ve seen, this was the most “real” in highlighting the pain. Simply put, this is high caliber acting on display.

Also starring a rock and a hard place.

The Way Back

(Directed by Peter Weir, running time 133 minutes)

A lesser known World War II historical piece, Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrel (with a decent non-Irish accent this time) and Alexander Potocean are just part of the group of escapees from a Soviet gulag located deep within the frozen Siberian woodlands. Against all the elements, the group traverses through miles upon miles of harsh terrain, all the way to the Indian sub-continent, hopefully securing their freedom. Despite quite literally being a film about traveling, the character development and interaction with some strong performances makes for a well paced tale of struggle. Coupled with great cinematography and natural locations, this is probably one of the most underrated films recently.

NOTE: Having said that, I’ve also discovered that the UK release date WAS in 2010, meaning this most likely would have made the top nine list.

Also starring Saoirse Ronan, Dragos Bucur and Gustaf Skarsgard.

The Fighter

(Directed by David O. Russell, running time 115 minutes)

With already plenty of boxing-focused dramas up for the shiny statues over the decades, The Fighter appears to still be able to hold its own and not become an also ran. Based on a true life story, Mark Wahlberg plays an amateur boxer, close to his family including his unruly brother played by Christian Bale (who hasn’t looked this malnourished since The Machinist). It may be your typical story of the low commoner reaching new heights through sport, yet being based on a true story you can’t really fault it if you feel some aspects fall apart and/or resolve themselves. Plus all the turmoil that comes with it is still fresh, along with top-notch performances that carry the entire picture... yes, Wahlberg to.

Also starring Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Jack McGee.

The Green Hornet (3D)

(Directed by Michel Gondry, running time 119 minutes)

With DC and Marvel freshly tapped, even the lesser known crime fighters are getting the big screen makeovers. The initially odd choice Seth Rogen plays the said valiant vespa along with his significantly more interesting sidekick Kato played by Jay Chou as they attempt to clean up the mean streets made the way they are by “Chudnofsky” played by Christoph Waltz, how to pronounce his name being something of a recurring joke. Despite some decent choreography and special effects action sequences, with the 3D effects being noticeably on par (which in my book rates it as not 'entirely pointless'), this humor-laden comic adaptation only reaches half of the mark away from a true comedic showcase. While enjoyable enough, it’s also by the numbers that in turn makes it mostly forgettable.

Also starring Cameron Diaz, David Harbour and Tom Wilkinson.


(Directed by Greg Mottola, running time 104 minutes)

The always enjoyable comedy film duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back again on the big screen, this time NOT under the direction of Edgar Wright (meaning the third Blood and Ice Cream film is still in waiting) playing a pair of nerdy British tourists in America on a road tour following Comic-Con who inadvertently stumble upon an extraterrestrial Area 51 runaway named Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen (this time being a fitting choice). Even though being from an advanced alien race, Paul is more akin to party going hitchhiker, making up plenty of humor itself. The entire cast gives well-played out comedy performances and on the whole are likable characters. Despite some erratic pacing and a shoe-horned romance subplot, this above and beyond road trip will most likely reel in the laughs, not to mention are few well placed geek culture references. While far from the tier of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Paul is still an enjoyable and a worthy film of its cast.

Also starring Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman and Bill Hader.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Film Review: Black Swan

(Directed by Darren Aronofsky, running time 108 minutes)

I’ve come to realize that in a Darren Aronofsky film, achievement is either out of reach or only obtainable through painful struggle or worse. While not necessarily a negative point, it does prepare one’s self prior to viewing. You’ll at least be prepared for the worse. More interesting though is this notion in itself is not really a “spoiler” for Black Swan, at least not for those who are familiar with Aronofsky’s work. If you’re not however... let’s just say that the trailer for the UK version is somewhat misleading.

That’s not to say the trailer completely is edited for marketing’s sake. The basic theme literally is one girl’s struggle to obtain her highest goal. Said girl is Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, an aspiring talented young ballet performer. Despite the hidden strength that ballet requires, Nina is more of a full grown child, still showing timid behavior, prudishness and social ignorance, all of which seem to stem from her reclusive home life with just her over bearing mother who is also under the same mind set towards her daughter and who might just be compensating for her own lost days and passion for the dance. When her theater begins to recruit and train for a supposed different take on the classic ballet “Swan Lake”, Nina is perfect to play the role of the beautiful and elegant white swan... however it is a duel role requiring to play the alter-ego black swan, passionate, wild and loose... basically what Nina isn’t, so naturally training for such a role quickly becomes a full time obsession.

To throw a spanner into the works, the theater also receives a new recruit named Lily, played by Mila Kunis who actually seems perfect for the role of the black swan. As Nina begins to practice more and more, she begins to change in personality... but also in mentality, encouraged further by Lily’s wild and active presence. The is the prime focus of the film, the psychological changes Nina goes through and while to others she may appear in desperate need to break the routine, being an already fragile mind such changes take form in sudden, often times twisted manifestations. To give one example, throughout the film Nina develops scratches on her back, sometimes even bleeding to the concern of her mother and others yet the wound from only Nina’s perspective takes on a different form. Without spoiling anything, such obscure, even disturbing imagery best described as Cronenberg style body horror is what tempts the audience to keep watching (even though at times causing some to turn away) as throughout there is no clear picture to what these manifestations are or why they are happening and what you do witness may not be true to life... or not. Some might call these sequences more akin to a horror film yet being lightly spread throughout, it never really feels out of place from the drama.

It quickly invokes the same style of psychological torment of Aronofsky’s famous Requiem for a Dream, and just a with that film, one would go far as to call the film depressing at times. By no means on the same level as his previous “reaching for prozac” setup but still comes full circle back to the initial notion from the start of this article. Such is the case with Winona Ryder who plays a side role as the original top performer at the theater before being forced to retire, Nina’s new found popularity as the next star not being particularly good PR, which obviously leads to a break down that itself begins to haunt Nina and the audience.

One the side of performances, Portman who in the past has settled for just "being there" (glares at Star War I, II & III) truly does give her best as a fragile mind that has only just begun to grow while cracking down the middle. Mila Kunis who before was something of an unknown (seriously, Meg Griffin!?) has been able herself to pack a punch and leave with something memorable. Another role of note however comes from the character Thomas Leroy the theater director, played by Vincent Cassel who at first appears as your typical perverted old teacher archetype but instead becomes in Nina’s mind as something of a sexual liberator, as someone who is trying to help a servilely repressed woman. It’s a particularly profuse role and one that carries more weight within the narrative than as first expected and one whose overall character might divide audiences.

In the most straight forward of senses, labeling the pictures as a “ballet drama” like some trailers mentioned at the start would be something as to limit the potential audience (yes, there’s still that “girly” view of the practice). Ballet however is something of a vintage form of art and as with any art can come the negative psychological aspect from those already near to breaking point. Instead Black Swan presents us with a story of obsession and (a late) liberation of one’s life within the role of a high class performance. While less degrading to it’s characters like Requiem while also being less true to life like The Wrestler, the film is still a worthy companion piece that pulls all the punches to deliver a film that is both elegant and twisted and clearly some of the best performances of it’s actors and actresses so far.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Top NINE Films of 2010

Trivial post year thumbs up to rich and important people who do not know or care; that’s right, it’s yet another Top 9. Why top 9? Because when compiling lists I’m alway stuck on number 10 as there are always 5 films I could put in it’s place. Further more there is no number 1 in the conventional sense of being THE top of 9, just the closest to it, as 2 and 3 are also. And of course this is the 2010 for UK releases so IMDB’s dates might disagree with my own criteria.

9. Invictus

(Directed by Clint Eastwood)

Morgan Freeman finally performs the inevitable role of former South-African president Nelson Mandela as he uses rugby as a way to unite a nation split by racial tension. On the surface it’s a by the numbers sports drama of the underdogs winning the championship, which reads very cliche but in actual fact is what really happened, instead making it a well acted historical piece.

8. Machete

(Directed by Robert Rodriguez)

Robert Rodriguez casts Danny Trejo and co to fight Steven Seagal and co with big knifes and even bigger guns... need I say more?

Ok fine. While many films of it’s kind despite all “fun factor” are in actual fact very bad pieces of cinema (some not even being released in one). What sets this apart, crossing the line into “good film” territory is the the self-referential feel it has with all this being done by a good director and even a few good actors. On top of that it’s one of the best films to touch on immigration in recent time... if you find that an odd notion, take it up with cinema in general, its their fault. Though it’s mostly pure over-the-top violent fun, plain and simple.

7. Toy Story 3

(Directed by Lee Unkrich)

The final chapter in Pixar’s animated sensation that even with all the childish antics appeals to film-goers of all ages, after all like the character Andy, the original audience of the first and second are grown up themselves now. It’s hard to explain but the best way to describe it’s appeal is that it’s pits memorable characters in dire situations while at the same striking a perfect balance between comedy and drama (plenty of the former)... and the current children of this generation can still get onboard.

6. Kick-Ass

(Directed by Matthew Vaughn)

Based off the graphic novel no one had read, with “graphic” having multiple meanings, this clear cut action comedy is strikingly brutal since after all, vigilantism isn’t a clean and noble practice. With numerous break out performances for multiple new and upcoming actors, and one of the best from the mixed bag veteran Nicolas Cage, pretty much every character gets room to breath resulting in plenty of varied and humorous scenes... also did I mention it was brutal?

5. Crazy Heart

(Directed by Scott Cooper)

A limited release of a 2009 American film that was mostly known for one simple achievement: it finally earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar. A simple story about an aged-washed country musician and his new found relationship with a young journalist, Jeff Bridges really steals the show as the believable yet entirely fictional Otis “Bad” Blake who despite his alcoholism and sex antics quickly shows his true colours as an old man down on his luck who just wants the normal family life. If only the Dude got the Academy's respect.

4. Inception

(Directed by Christopher Nolan)

Modern Batman director takes a walk down the beaten path with an original science-fiction thriller with a script than can in the most professional terms can be best described as a “mind-fuck”. Despite in all honesty having to watch it twice to completely understand every other detail... and twist... and revelation, the plot itself is at the end of the day fairly straight forward. It’s just quite simply the thinking-man’s action film and to produce that successfully in the age of style over substance CGI, it’s a genuine achievement.

3. Four Lions

(Directed by Chris Morris)

Brass Eye’s Chris Morris dips his toe... dives head first into the world of amateur(?) Islamic terrorism in the UK. Despite all the crude humor and slapstick comedy, this bold grounded comedy actually depicts these four Stooges as just the sort of people extreme ideals can prey upon, the main cast themselves knowing little about the cause they “fight” for. Despite the balls the film has, the characterization and humor fits in and thankfully doesn’t participate in shock comedy with a sensitive theme, which most of the time is just for the sake of it.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

(Directed by Edgar Wright)

Based off the series of graphic novels that weren’t even complete when this film was in production, Edgar Wright still manages to to geek out in the best way possible with a coherent plot in a world that works on retro video game conventions. Yet despite all the flash and references to popular culture, the story itself is actually more than a modern story of fighting for the princess but rather reflecting a young adult’s not yet perfect mindset and relationship issues. And if the best way to convey someone trying to workout their relationship in a proper dignified manner... is to portray that through a series Street Fighter fight sequences, well then, that’s just good entertainment.

1. The Social Network

(Directed by David Fincher)

In the modern age where the internet knows all and sees all, with Facebook currently as its church, David Fincher explores the thought process behind this simple (and to an extent sad) fact. Even though many have claimed that the narrative and characterization is noticeably dramatized from the real life story, that being the case is actually why this piece of film-making is so compelling to watch, showing just how innovation can quickly shape and break people’s lives. Further more to its credit is the lack of any noticeable protagonist or “hero”, myself and others still wanting to see how events unfold and just who will come out on top... the short answer is no one. In addition to a brilliantly composed soundtrack by Trent Reznor, the pacing and narrative flows perfectly with all the personal turmoil and back stabbing practices.