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Movie Ratings and Reviews

Boy
Boy (2012)
½

Outstanding little gem from NZ. Set in 1984 when Michael Jackson was king and E.T. was THE movie to see, the family portrait we peer into in this film is full of life and magic but not without it's skeletons. The humour and drama are perfectly balanced and the performances from the children (particularly the lead) are touching and brilliant. This will rate as one of the years best and leaves a memorable impression beyond it's 85min running time.

The Adventures of Tintin

A visual delight and a cracking adventure as to be expected from Spielberg and Jackson. Although the film does suffer from action set-piece overload which tends to overwhelm the humour and emotional side of the plot at times, it is a faithful and worthy ode to Herge's timeless characters although Snowy and Haddock often steal the show from Tin Tin. A highly enjoyable adventure for all ages and very immersive in it's 3D format.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
½

The Cruiser is back in fine form in the latest instalment of the successful Mission Impossible series. Being a fan of No.#1 and #3 ( John Woo's second entry was terrible) I was not prepared for this thrilling and tense action masterpiece. Every element simply works under the brilliant direction of Pixar director Brad Bird, with each member of the team bringing their own strengths to the plot. Simon Pegg injects some necessary humour into the very serious proceedings, whilst all the action sequences are perfectly taut in their execution. I knocked of half a star for some underwritten baddies ( although the actors do just fine with what they are given), but this does not detract from the sheer energy of the film which is an absolute must-see, and one of my best film experiences this year. Highly Recommended.

In Time
In Time (2011)
½

Hollywood cliche abounds in this futuristic cat and mouse thriller. The script and acting makes for a forgettable experience when it could have been an interesting film.

The Red Shoes

An exceptional film from 1948, that radiates perfection from every frame. Martin Scorsese hails this to be the most beautiful film ever committed to celluloid, and I can see why. Every frame is careful composed with vivid color and detail, every line of dialogue is a joy to hear, the editing is masterful and the plot and choreography of the ballet is spellbinding. This is pure cinema at it's finest. Fans of 'Black Swan' must see this masterpiece that inspired it.

The Skin I Live In

A deliciously dark and perverse drama from Spanish 'Master Director' Pedro Almodovar that captivates with it's twists, turns and invention amongst the tasty melodrama. Although Almodovar is always unique in his vision, I did feel that he was highly influenced by 1960 Horror 'Eyes without a face' as well as the obvious nod to Frankenstein. Antonio Banderas seems 'at home' with his mother tongue and back with the Director that helped him start his career, whilst the rest of the cast are quite brilliant. Don't let anybody ruin the plot for you, just see it!

Our Idiot Brother
½

A neat little comedy with some great performances, particularly from Rudd tackling a Jeff Lebowski inspired performance. Worth a watch.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Told in a fragments and flashbacks, the brave performances are the anchor to this dark and disturbing film. Saying anything about its plot would lessen the effect. Highly recommended.

Midnight in Paris
½

A charming and surprising return to form for Woody Allen. Intelligently written and performed and beautifully shot by Darius Khondji. Take a nostalgic stroll through Paris and soak up this fine film.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It is hard to dismiss the fine pedigree of this enigmatic film. A talented director hot off an international hit (Let the right one in), a cast of who's who of British talent scorching the screen in adaptation of a much adored classic spy novel by John Le Carre. All elements are deliberate and measured and oozing mood and tone. My only gripe is that the plot is hard to crack, but the flip side being it is ripe for repeated viewings.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

Another masterful film from Fincher, albeit one without the 'wow' factor that usually wells in me after seeing one of his new films. The main reason is that the the Swedish version is still fresh in mind, and although Finchers vision is closer to the source novel, its all too familiar. Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are all excellent in their respective roles, but the revelation is Rooney Mara, redefining an already iconic character, bring a different inflection on what we were familiar with. Fincher is the one of the finest film makers in the business, and the only one who could have executed this material with the reverence it deserves. Half a star more than the Swedish version for me as this is a more skillfull and refined effort.

The Descendants
½

Another poignant gem from the brilliant Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election). Clooney is heartbreakingly good in this role which is probably bound for Oscar glory, whilst Payne concretes his position as one of the finest directors in the business, telling simple and touching tales whilst nailing the comedic and dramatic tone. See it immediately!

Hugo
Hugo (2011)

When Scorsese announced his intent to make a family film in 3D, many would have thought it a strange concept, I myself was intrigued at the prospect. Alas their was nothing to worry about, 'Hugo' has exceeded any expectation and proved to be one Marty's greatest achievements. Visually stunning with the best use of 3D I have seen to date, this really is an ode to the magic of cinema and how it all began. The film combines elements of fantasy, mystery and adventure all to brilliant effect with a display of note perfect performances from the brilliant cast. Scorsese's love of his craft is noticeable in every golden frame as he celebrates the imagination of cinema. Hugo is perfect in everyway, and should be seen by all film lovers on the big screen in 3D to be truly appreciated.

Take Shelter
Take Shelter (2011)

I could insert many superlatives to express how impressed I was with this film, a breathtaking and haunting masterpiece that will slip under most peoples radar. An Oscar worthy performance (why was he not nominated) from Michael Shannon in a film that builds slowly and deliberately creating an aura of tension that is literally hypnotic. The direction and editing give the performances room to grow and breathe complimenting the stunning visuals. A small film that has so much to say, I urge anyone reading this to seek this film out.

Win Win
Win Win (2011)
½

Win Win is one of those rare gems where eveything aligns perfectly to deliver a totally rewarding, enriching and fulfilling celluloid experience. Director Tom McCarthy is building an impressive resume of films, with both 'The Station Agent' and 'The Visitor' impressing me immensly and proving that he is indeed a master of his craft. Everything in this film is about the characters, the human experience and a naturalism that is more akin to indie films than Hollywood, in that there is no cliche just pure realism ie. the teenagers in the film feel like kids you know, not the way you are used to them being portrayed in film. Giammatti is always impossible to fault and plays flawed characters so well, he is brilliantly supported by the charismatic Carnavale, Tambor and Ryan. Alex Shaffer shines in his debut acting performance and will no doubt be seen in many more roles to come. The script is impeccable and shows a real tenderness in amongst some comical scenarios. This film deserves some attention and will rank highly on my best films of the year list.

The Beaver
The Beaver (2011)
½

An interesting comment on the effects of depression that plays a little too safe. Mel Gibson reconfirms his acting chops, whilst the rest of the cast fall into place perfectly with a solid script that deals out some excellent scenes aswell as some clunky ones. Jodie Fosters direction shows alot of connection with the project, but struggles with the right tone at times. Worthwhile viewing.

Waitress
Waitress (2007)

An affectionate 'slice' of the south, treading a line between touching drama and whimsy. This tasty gem boasts a fine script brought to life by some well cast players. Keri Russell steals the show with a touching performance, whilst Fillion (Firefly/Serenity) Hines (Curb your enthusiasm) and Sisto (Six feet under) provide solid back-up. the bittersweet tragedy is that Director Adrienne Shelley passed away not long after making and starring in this film.

The American
The American (2010)
½

This film has copped a bit of flack for not living up to it's action based trailer. What we get here is a slow-burn thriller that channels Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge) in it's minimalistic, euro-film approach. Clooney delivers a restrained performance, dialogue is sparse but potent, the plot appears simple but reveals it's complexities slowly and the amazing cinematography from Photographer turned director Anton Corbijn is sublime. 'The American' is a deliberate and meticulously crafted film that rewards those with patience.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
½

Yet another attempt to resurrect a dead franchise. The original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston was riveting stuff, with a patchy series of films that followed it. Tim Burton's more recent attempt was an abomination (which he blames studio interference for). This on the other hand is quite a decent flick, directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) who has been given a monstrous budget to work with (compared to his shoestring debut) which has been used wisely on it's CGI ape creations. Andy Serkis brings his experience as King Kong and Gollum to the table, helping to really sell the super intelligent chimp 'Caesar'. James Franco is fine as the wonder scientist, whilst the rest of the cast serviceably work with the sometimes cliched script. The film is solid, but has trouble escaping it's genre conventions and comes off feeling like it's just the set-up for something grander in the inevitable sequel. Enjoyable.

Bad Teacher
Bad Teacher (2011)
½

The title recalls a certain familiarity with 'Bad Santa' from a few years ago, which was actually a very funny film, this sadly is not. Cameron Diaz's crude, rude and inappropriate Elizabeth potentially could have rewarded us with some comic gold, but there is only a few laughs to be had in the midst of a silly plot focussed ultimately around raising funds (by whatever means necessary) for a Boob-Job. Characters are wafer thin and cliched as is the script, which makes for a pretty light affair.

Wasted on the Young

This is a handsome and stylish debut for Aussie director Ben C. Lucas. At times reminding me of schoolyard tragedy films like '2:37' or 'Elephant', or even 'Lord of the Flies' with it's deliberate lack of adult presence, this film comments on many issues with todays youth, lack of responsibilty, entitlement, and dis-enchantment, whilst not coming off too heavy-handed. Although the narrative gets lost at times within the time jumping fabric of the story, the impressive performances totally anchor the film while the use of colour and tone within the framework of the striking cinematography and the hypnotic soundtrack evoke a haunting atmosphere. Highly recommended.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Matthew McConaughey makes a much needed return to form in this cracker of a film. A legal thriller with plenty of smarts, style and substance, a wealth of engaging performances and some nice twists and turns to rank this as one of the years best.

Submarine
Submarine (2011)

An inspired and ecclectic debut from Richard Ayoade, wearing his French 'New Wave' influences on his sleeve yet also subverting the teen rom-com. This clever little film is enjoyable to watch, boasting some fine performances, a great soundtrack and some interesting filmic techniques that never detract from the simple heart-felt screenplay.

Le Doulos
Le Doulos (1962)
½

On my quest to experience master French Director Jean-Pierre Melville's body of work (Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge are two of my all-time favourite films), I came into 'Le Doulos' with high expectations. There is no doubt the Melville trademarks are all at play and the film is suitably gritty and stylish. The plot is quite overwhelming on first viewing with a myriad of double-crossing and unreliable and deceptive characters. In fact 'Le Doulos may have had some influence on the modern classic 'The Usual Suspects'. Whilst not impressing me as much as Melvilles 'Greats' on first viewing, I look forward to re-visiting this in the future.

Hesher
Hesher (2011)
½

I was personally drawn to this film by the use of the Metallica font in the title and the liberal use of their music in the trailer, but this little indie gem has a lot more going for it than enticing music placement. First time director Spencer Susser and co-writer David Michod (Writer and Director of last years fantastic 'Animal Kingdom') have worked together to deliver a unique and blackly comic take on grief and responsibilty. Performances are uniformily excellent, particularly from the young star T.J. (Devin Brochu). Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 'Hesher' character whilst seemingly a plot device to provide catharsis to the grieving family at the centre of the piece, seems like it was a lot of fun to play. There is dramatic depth and emotional resonance here that really hits home, but there is also much to laugh at and enjoy.

Rango
Rango (2011)

On the surface this appears to be something fresh and original in the animated arena, but all hope is disappears early on when the blatant homages start to rear their head. 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' gets a brief nod early on, 'Chinatown' is the biggest influence on the plot, whilst 'The Dollars Trilogy' also plays it's part with Clint Eastwood's 'Man with no name' offering some inspiration to the Chameleon with an identity crisis. Despite the re-hashed and tired plot, the visuals are quite compelling and the fine cast of voice actors do not stand out as much as other films in the animated world. A bit more humour and originality could have earned this another star from me.

The Godfather, Part II

Epic, majestic and impossible to fault. The perfect sequel to the perfect film juggles two timelines with perfect balance, giving the rise of Vito and the fall of Michael just the right breathing space. Quintessential cinema that I appreciate more on every viewing.

The Godfather

What is there left to say about this titan of a film that hasn't been riffed, quoted, spoofed or re-enacted since it's release in 1972. It's a film that is infused in our culture, it's romantacized portrayal of American/Italian Mafia family feels so real to many who have grown up with similar heritage, it's metaphorical insight to capitalism in America is majestically 'Shakesperean' in it's delivery and although it's 'a bunch of gangsters doing a bunch of gangster shit' (to quote Tarantino) the audience is so emotionally connected that we actually care about these shady characters. The film is so richly and lovingly brought to the screen by Coppola who has infused his Italian heritage into every golden frame, and it feels somehow authentic. There is not enough superlatives to describe the performances, the eminently quotable dialogue and the hauntingly memorable scenes that stay with you forever once you experience them for the first time. A masterpiece that is so deserved of it's acclaim and arguably only bettered by it's sequel. A truly important artistic achievement from a visionary director.

The Secret of Kells

A fantastic little animated feature which gives an Irish Folklore perpspective of life in medieval times. The story is is simple but completely engaging throughout it's sublime artistic vision, the animation is a simple 2D style with many celtic and mystical flourishes that make it look other-worldly. The film-makers could have gone a little deeper into the significance of the mystical 'Book of Kells' and the characters could have been a little more fleshed out, but this is small quibblings against what is quite a unique and magical little gem.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch (2011)
½

I have to admit I am a fan of most of Zack's work, and to be disappointed with this ambitious yet hollow effort (after the fantastic adaptation of 'Watchmen') is quite a let down. One cannot fault Zack's visual ambition, and likes his previous films, this smacks of vision and imagination, yet to delve beyond the visual, one becomes inundated with an overdose of music montages and extended video clips, video game like set pieces and a failed attempt to be poetic and weighty. The characters all have barriers up that are impossible for the audience to connect, engage or emote with, which left me with an empty feeling whislt being over-stimulated by the barrage of eye candy. Disappointing...

Super 8
Super 8 (2011)

J.J. Abrams is having himself a rather nice career with his film and T.V successes alike, Super 8 feels like his most personal achievement yet. This is a wonderfully heart-felt character piece, focussing on a group of kids trying to find their way in the world, when it is turned up-side down. The events (which I would prefer to not spoil for those unawares) create a union and bond between group of children that harks back to the golden age of coming of age dramas like 'The Goonies', 'E.T'. or 'Stand By Me'. Cracking performances are the order of the day from a cast new bloods, and young up and comers, whilst J.J. never let's the Science fiction plot overshadow the relationships and emotional journey of the characters. One of years best.

The Adjustment Bureau
½

An engaging and at times original piece based on a Philip K. Dick premise, which blends sci-fi themes with a romantic comedy/man on the run plot. The unbalanced tone of the film leaves a hope for what could have been, but solid performances from the leads make for an enjoyable romp.

Source Code
Source Code (2011)

Director Duncan Jones follows up his super impressive debut 'Moon' with an intelligent sci-fi thriller that albeit has elements of Groundhog Days repetition of a moment in time theme and Inceptions dream within dreams framework still holds it's own as a fresh and original think piece. The pace is exhilarating at just under 90 minutes, carried along by an outstanding cast. Jake Gyllenhaal's ability to convey urgency and emotion is delievered sincerely here and he carries the film like the true professional he is. Duncan Jones is proving himself to be an exciting addition to an ever-growing list of 'Hot New Directors'.

Hall Pass
Hall Pass (2011)

I knew what I was in for... watched it anway... laughed a few times... then forgot about it and switched my brain back on...

Blow-Up
Blow-Up (1966)
½

Michelangelo Antonioni's first English-language film is still unmistakably European in it's cinema verite stylings and larger than life metaphysical ambition. One must delve deeper to expose the layers beneath what would seem to be a simple murder mystery and experience a film that is very symbolic in nature and experimental in non-conventional film techniques (no pay-off, rooting for the anti-hero). An invitation to look beyond the surface.

Paul
Paul (2011)
½

A very entertaining comedy written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead) and directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad) that gives plenty of nods to Spielberg and sci-fi geekdom aswell as the humble road movie. The cast seem to be having a great time here which infectiously rubs off on the audience and although this style of comedy walks a road well-worn with cliched characters and scenarios, it also wears it's heart on it's sleeve and doesn't pretend to outshine it's limitations. A fun and irreverent romp.

Babies
Babies (2010)
½

A wordless documentary focusing on the first year of four different children from around the globe, contrasting the learning and upbringing experiences, whether a city dweller (Tokyo/San Francisco) or a rural (Namibia/Mongolia). The film is beautifully realised and of course very very cute. The downfall is that is merely eye candy with not alot to take away from it. An easy film to watch (especially if like me you have just experienced a childs first year).

Homicide
Homicide (1991)
½

David Mamet films rely heavily on clever wordplay and exposition which can sometimes be to the films detriment, but in the case of this overlooked film, the dialogue really gives it some oomph and guts. The film has a cracking first half with Joe Mantegna and William H. Macy providing a honest chemistry as detective partners, but the film seems less potent when Mantegna's Jewish cop falls in with a Zionist group and begins to unravel internally and externally with his personal racial issues. At times TV movie of the week (and probably part of the genesis of the flood of crime shows on our TV screens), but more often that not this film is a mesmerising pot-boiler with some great performances and punchy dialogue.

Anatomy of a Murder
½

This has long been on my 'Must-see films' list, and I am glad to admit no disappointment upon finally seeing this grand courtroom melodrama. Jimmy Stewart is arguably the most likeable actor to have ever graced the screen, and brings his gravitas to his part of Defense lawyer Paul Biegler who may have bitten of more than he can chew when he takes on a case of murder and rape . Director Otto Preminger handles the material with skill and a little cheekiness (the censors barely let him get away with his use of the word 'panties') whilst the stellar cast and screenplay commanded my attention for the entire 160 minute running length. A true classic.

Get Low
Get Low (2010)

The venerable Robert Duvall and Bill Murray come together in this unique and finely crafted film. The plot revolves around Felix Bush, an old hermit with a dark secret that attempts to plan his own funeral party before his death so he can attend. The journey to reach the punchline ebbs and flows with a few misfires. But there is not a lot to fault in this handsomely photographed film from first time Director Aaron Schneider.

Another Year
Another Year (2010)
½

Another sublime slice of British life courtesy of the ever-so brilliant Mike Leigh. This wonderful portrayal of life within a family over the course of four seasons is amongst the directors best work for mine. The complexity of the characters and the emotive resonance filling every frame is evidence of a master craftsman at work. A life-affirming piece that speaks on multiple levels.

Fish Tank
Fish Tank (2010)

The British are masters of grim and gritty social comment, with this very impressive effort demanding to be experienced. Harsh life lessons are everyday life for the the 15yo Mia (an impressive Katie Jarvis) as she tries to find any scrap of meaning in her painful existence. Michael Fassbender is outstanding in his role as a destructive facilitator in Mia's journey. The film was curiously not shot in widescreen and the 4:3 image on the screen feels quite primitive, but this does not detract from what is ultimately a tale well told.

Touch of Evil

Orson Welles creative flair and experimental techniques provide an electric charge to his method of delivering a layered but simple tale. Hard-boiled and sophisticated with some delicious characters that command attention, the film famously was butchered by the studios before being re-released in it's current form which is apparently as close to Welles vision as we are likely to get. A film to admire.

Sharkwater
Sharkwater (2007)

A most important and effective documentary that shows exactly what impact our stupid and greedy human race is having on our planet. Do your conscience a favour before you eat shark fin soup again and watch this film.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
½

'They don't make 'em like this anymore' is a familiar but appropriate statement for this widely acclaimed John Huston classic. This is a grand adventure that also makes use of a witty and immaculately delivered script. Bogart's greedy descent into madness is exciting to watch as are all the pitch-perfect performances from the rest of the cast. A near perfect film.

The Green Hornet
½

An average attempt at bringing to life a much adored cult comic/radio classic from yesteryear. Seth Rogen was a terrible choice as the star of this vehicle, with his usual likeable persona coming off as a complete ass, Jay Chou as Kato really struggles with his role whilst Diaz is her usual ditzy self, Christoph Waltz is under-used but does what he can with a thankless role. This film is way below Michel Gondry's level of imagination and comes off as a poor excuse to simply' blow some shit up'!

The Tunnel Movie
½

A surprisingly solid entry into the 'mockumentary horror' canon that was famously made available and marketed at the online community, giving interested viewers the opportunity to buy frames of the film to help raise the finance to get it made. Shot in Sydney, this affecting film boasts respectable performances and a solid yet generic plot, and it isn't until the foursome get down into the 'Tunnels' that things really start to shine. The film-makers have drawn upon the effective technique pioneered by masters like Hitchcock, to sensibly create fear and tension through the unseen, and leave most of the scares to the imagination. What is seen is just enough to cause white knuckles. Well worth seeing.

Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)
½

Henri-Georges Clouzot produced some compelling work (The Wages of Fear) and with this classic mystery thriller, he easily rivalled Hitchcock in the suspense stakes, even to the point of displaying a disclaimer at the end of the film to ask the audience not to spoil the plot of the film as Hitchcock also did with 'Psycho'. My first experience with this film was with the terrible Sharon Stone remake from 1996. Upon discovering it was a remake, I have waited 15 years to erase that film from my mind so I could experience the original with fresh eyes. This film is a true classic of the genre that needs to be experienced. Highly recommended.

Morning Glory

Breezy and entertaining Hollywood fluff. Rachael McAdams is easy on the eye and has a good crack at a star performance. Harrison Ford really shows his worth with some sharp banter against the always terrific Diane Keaton. Look past the cliche and plot contrivances for the light entertainment within.

Choke
Choke (2008)

Unlike the masterful 'Fight Club', this Chuck Palahniuk adaptation fails to be a wholly memorable or rewarding experience. The blackly comic scenarios may be faithful to the source material, but don't quite hang together as a film, making it come off quite disjointed and aimless. Sam Rockwell is hard to fault in any role and is suitably sublime in this sleazy role. Clark Gregg has made a valiant effort and adapting difficult material for his debut and should be admired for making and above average film despite it's many flaws.

Trollhunter
Trollhunter (2011)
½

A neat blend of mythos and mocumentary stylings make for a entertaining thriller set in the Norwegian countryside. Some great visual effects add some credibilty to the plot as does the 'Troll Hunter' Otto Jesperson's character. For fans of 'Blair Witch Project' and 'Cloverfield'

13 Assassins
13 Assassins (2011)
½

Takashi Miike is not one to pigeon-holed, as his eclectic resume of film proves, and this stunning film may well be his crowning achievement. This is a remake of a 1963 film, which in turn borrows heavily from Akira Kurosawa's classic films (Seven Samurai is the obvious inspiration). Although the plot is well-worn, everything about Miikes attempt at a Jidaigeki film proves the work of a master craftsman. The build up is immersive and engaging, but the bloodbath crescendo is pure adrenalin. This film should not be missed.

The Next Three Days

Despite it's flaws (of which their are many) this taut and engaging thriller is host to many fine performances, particularly from the ever dependable Crowe. The immersive score by Danny Elfman also impresses, but the plot is just hoaky enough to keep it from being an above average thriller.

Brother's Keeper

Fantastic doco about family and community pulling together to overcome injustice. A must see!

The Way Back
The Way Back (2011)
½

Peter Weir's first film since 'Master and Commander' is a 'triumph of the human spirit' story, that while wonderfully shot and mostly immersive is somewhat overshadowed by other recent survival true stories that pack more punch eg. '127 Hours' or 'Touching the Void'.

Blood Into Wine

Your enjoyment level of this documentary may depend on both your interest in vino and Maynard James Keenan (Lead singer of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifier). As an avid follower of both topics, I have eagerly sought out this enaging and edifying examination of the numerous dimensions of this often elusive artist and his passion for wine. The documentary infuses humour and some tongue in cheek silliness into what is usually considered a serious and sacred topic, though it never disrespects the subject matter. I felt this to be a rich and rewarding experience that would only be bettered by tasting a bottle of Northern Arizona's fine Cabernet.

Flandersui Gae (Barking Dogs Never Bite) (Flanders' Dog)
½

This quirky little gem was Bong Joon-Ho's debut (Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother) in which he shows his flair for mixing pitch black humour, with thrills, drama and horror to create a unique flavour that has been refined in his later films. Dog lovers be wary.

Despicable Me

An amiable attempt at something a little unique in the Hollywood animation machine but not quite enough to be memorable or groundbreaking. Their is an exciting inventiveness in the plotting of the main vilains to gain dominance over each other, but that all falls away when the cute orphan girls win over the 'despicable' Gru almost too easily. Their is alot of unanswered details in the story that could have been fleshed with an extra 10-20 min running time, but it is a decent watch nonethelss.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

This much adored saga is reaching it's denouement leaving behind it a hugely successful but mixed bag of films, which has seen a massive fanbase grow up along side Harry, Ron, and Hermoine as they have made this near decade long journey. This first installment of a two part film is a grand adventure with plenty of thrills and a bleak tone that suits the material. The cast seem to be having a good 'ol time of it, dealing with some weighty emotional themes whilst Director David Yates proves he is more than capable to take us on the last leg of the journey. I look forward to the final film.

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries)
½

There is no denying Ingmar Bergman's affect on the cinematic landscape. This masterpiece follows his usual musings on mortality and meditations on the meaning of it all, but there is also a warmth and heart to this film that is immensly satisfying. Genius!

Limitless
Limitless (2011)
½

A solid attempt to standout in the crowded Hollywood scene, this intriguing concept about the use of our brains capacity and what one may do if it were able to be freed proves an entertaining night in. Although the plot-holes and moral ambiguity dilemma's are high in the mix, Abbie Cornish and De Niro are under-used, Bradley Cooper is a serviceable enough lead and the energy and visuals ebb and flow to fall in line with the NZT pills effect on Eddie Morra as he navigates through his tangled web. Recommended viewing.

I Saw the Devil
½

Kim Ji-Woon is one the Korean cinema darlings along side Park Chan-Wook and Bong Joon-Ho bringing accomplished, fresh and visceral cinema to the west. After Park Chan-Wooks vengeance trilogy (Old Boy being the break-out hit) one would imagine their would be nowhere to go with the 'revenge' concept. This visceral, searing serial killer/revenge film performs quite a feat in being both visually stunning, yet unbearable to watch at times. All the main actors are memorable from their previous work and put in brave performances here. Although a talented filmaker he is, the film suffers from length, repetition and a lack of emotional depth which is probably more an issue with the script. Recommended for fans of extreme asian cinema, the casual viewer should beware.

The Company Men
½

A timely film about the effects of the GFC on a major American corporation. Many threads are followed (maybe too many) with some sharp dialogue and engaging performances from the 'all-star' cast. At times preachy and anger inducing, and at others poignant and touching, there is a lot to like about this film.

Jackass 3
Jackass 3 (2010)

You know what you are getting witha 'Jackass' experience, plenty of laughs, much squirming and some induced vomitus if your stomach is of the weaker kind. This would have been quite the experience in 3D I imagine, but in 2D it was nonetheless a enjoyable night on the couch with some great stunts and gags.

It's a Wonderful Life
½

I dare anyone not to be moved and touched by the sentimental grace of this beautiful film. Watching the colourized version of this 65 year old, yet timeless film, I was astounded by how beautiful it looks, how well it has aged and how affecting it still manages to be. Jimmy Stewart is well-known for his wholesome quality and suits this fable like material perfectly. This was probably Frank Capra's last great film. A must-see.

Chinatown
Chinatown (1974)

One of the truly great films of all-time (and a personal favourite), 'Chinatown' is Polanski working his magic on a masterful Robert Towne script, an impressive cast including the intoxicating Faye Dunaway and the faultless Jack Nicholson. This is a Noir piece in the truest sense; Hard-boiled, tough and as black as spades, but yet takes the genre constraints to a new level. Polanski nails the mood and atmosphere that the script requires, creating an almost elegiac resonance that is haunting and immersive. Essential viewing.

12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)
½

Another dialogue driven classic from the '50's that uses 12 personalities with their own baggage to deliver tension and emotion in the confines of one room.
There is nothing negative to be said for a film that delivers what it sets out to do so perfectly. Essential viewing.

All About Eve
½

Rarely does Hollywood make 'em like this anymore. A biting comment on the effect of Fame both in the theatre and film world boasting razor sharp dialogue that flawlessly radiates from this impressive cast. Bette Davis is truly great in her role as an aging theater star whilst Anne Baxter is captivating as the upcoming starlet with a hidden agenda. A must see 1950 classic.

Hereafter
Hereafter (2010)
½

Clint Eastwood at the ripe old age of 80, tackles mortality in a format used much more successfully by Alejandro Gonzįlez Ińįrritu with 'Babel'. The film has some good sequences (the tsunami) but all in all their is not much to recommend here. Some of the acting is terrible (Matt Damon is the exception), the plot is mostly uninteresting, meandering and sentimental. Clint rarely disappoints, but in this case he should focus on stronger material than this messy indulgence.

Dogtooth (Kynodontas)
½

This Oscar nominated curiosity is interesting in concept but never fully realises it's potential. Some will find the material confronting, but fans of Haneke or Von Trier will be familiar with the minimalist technique and the 'fly on the wall' aspect of this very watchable Greek film.

Inside Job
Inside Job (2010)

Insightful and infuriating examination of the events that led to the GFC, where we stand now, and who's to blame. To a non-financial mind like myself, I found it sometimes confusing but overall very well explained. The pay-off is definitely seeing the culprits stumble and breakdown over the the line of questioning from Charles Ferguson. This demands to be seen.

Volver
Volver (2006)

Almodovar's current muse Peneleope Cruz is intoxicating in this quirky splice of life from Spain. Volver is feels almost epic in the ground it covers while still maintaining that perfect balance of realism and surrealism that is trademark Almodovar.

Love and Other Drugs
½

I approached this film with high hopes for the what 'Rom-coms' can be or even get away with in this day and age especially with the ever-brilliant Gyllenhaal and the radiant and alluring Hathaway to guide me through, and I was mildly impressed with the offering. An insightful look into the tough sell of a Pharmaceutical rep, A stage one 'Parkinsons disease' sufferer with a voracious sexual appetite handling some pretty great dialogue. The main problem is that the film suffers from casually addressing our 'medicated nation' rather than taking a weightier approach on what is obviously a massive social issue, also we are dealing with love against all odds (done to death) and an aura of 'we are trying really hard to be an anti rom-com', but of course the film-maker relents and gives the Hollywood sheen that we would all expect. Still this is a solid yarn with some saucy bedroom scenes and enjoyable on many levels.

El Aura (The Aura)

This classy Argentinian thriller has an air of style and sophistication even though the mood and tone is bleak and dreary. The plot is very intriguing and engaging and the characters play it well. The cinematography is outstanding as is the direction and pace. The biggest disappointment was that I just discovered that the Director passed away not long after making this worthy thriller which was only his second film after his promising debut 'Nine Queens'.

Paranormal Activity 2

This is unnecessarily becoming a franchise, but suffice to say this prequel was frighteningly effective.

This Is Spinal Tap
½

This film has not aged, and remains a riot on every viewing. This may very well been the birth of the 'Mockumentary' genre. The fact is, people still to this day think that 'Spinal Tap' were the real deal. Watch it if you have not done yourself the favour.

The Hudsucker Proxy
½

Revisiting this 1994 Coen Bros. oddity, I can immediatly see why it is considered one of the lesser films in their portfolio, not to say that it isn't funny, silly and clever, but it's mostly the our inability to emotionally invest in the characters. The film is an ode to screwball comedy much like 'Raising Arizona' was, and also makes much comment on capitalism and consumerism. I do like the film alot, but not as fondly as nearly every other Coen film that came before it or has come since.

Cyrus
Cyrus (2010)
½

Whilst having it's flaws, this is quite a little gem with a big heart. Jonah Hill's character separates the film from what would otherwise be another typical rom-com with great performances. The edge that Jonah's character gives to the film provides an anchor for the great performers to show some different sides to their acting abilities. Reilly and Keener are always great but Tomei really captures your heart in this film. Recommended.

The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

A charming resurrection of a Jaques Tati script delivered in striking 2D watercoloured animation by the talented Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville). The dialogue is sparse, relying puerly on the visual format as if it was from the silent era. The plot and characters are delectably sweet and it would take a soulless individual to not be swept away by the beautiful content and visual appeal of this Oscar nominated film.

Tamara Drewe
Tamara Drewe (2010)
½

This very engaging little film with it's wild cast of mischievious yet endearing characters is nothing short of enjoyable. The story is drawn from a graphic novel that sets itself in a moden pastoral setting in the English countryside, which lends to it's unique feel and tone. Stephen Frears has experience balancing black comedy with good 'ol storytelling and is pretty well on the mark here.

Let Me In
Let Me In (2010)
½

Director Matt Reeves has pulled off a massive feat in not only paying respect to the modern classic that was the Swedish film of 2008 'Let the right one in' but arguably eclipsing it. He has nailed the tone, the mood the love and friendship between the 12 yr old leads and has showcased further talent after his exciting debut 'Cloverfield' with one of the best horror films in years. Reeves shows his admiration for the source by using everything in his power to do it justice. The cinematography is outstanding, the performances are pitch perfect and the score harks back to memorable classic horror films from the 70's. A stunning and beautiful piece of work.

Vanishing On 7th Street

Sadly Director Brad Anderson has managed a blip in his successful string of films (Session 9, The Machinist and Transiberrian) with this lazy and silly film. The acting and script are sub-par (esp. Hayden Christensen needs a new career) and the plot whilst emerging from an interesting idea leads the viewer nowhere quickly and is easily forgotten soon after. I almost thought M. Night Shyamalan had gotten his hands on this and screwed it up.

The Fighter
The Fighter (2010)

Another solid entry to the 'Pugilism' canon of films, The Fighter sees David 'O Russell coming back to form after a tough few years since his fantastic 'Three Kings'. The film is one of those formulaic crowd pleasers that is elevated by it's performances, but in all fairness the film stands firm with an excellent script, some outrageous moments and some beautifully captured fights. Christian Bale is worthy of Oscar honours for his performance, but Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Mark Wahlberg are also outstanding. Cinema at it's most entertaining.

Cropsey
Cropsey (2010)

Much like 'Paradise Lost - The Child Murders at Robin Hood Woods" and to a certain extent 'Capturing the Friedmans' this unsettling documentary is quite compelling in it's questioning and revealing of evidence regarding child abductions on Staten Island in the '70's and 80's. The film is non-commital in it's conclusion on Andre Rand's guilt or innocence, but the film-makers do uncover alot of puzzling evidence to keep the audience engaged.

Barton Fink
Barton Fink (1991)
½

An early abstract masterpiece from the Coen Bros. that is steeped in subtext, metaphor and symbolism on Hollywood and the creative process. John Turturro and John Goodman totally inhabit every role they have performed for the Coen's over the years and outdo themselves in this brilliantly complex film. The pacing is superb, with a slow intriguing set-up, eclipsing in a sensational crescendo that will keeping you thinking for days.

Great Directors
½

Ten Great Directors, ten points of view about the comment of film on society both past and present. This engaging documentary sheds personal light on influences, studio pressures and political commentary amongst other things that will be of interest to all fans of quality cinema.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

This week is 'Coen Bros. Revisit Week' and I will start with a gem from 2000. In this whimsical fable like on Homer's 'Odyssey' the Coens venture into a romanticized deep south of America, draping a golden hue over both the lens and the larger than life characters that we journey with throughout this wonderfully comic and touching film. All elements come together with Clooney, Turturro and Nelson owning their roles as they run into a vast array of Coen regulars on their 'Odyssey. To be enjoyed by all.

Due Date
Due Date (2010)
½

Todd Phillips follows up his reasonably funny but terribly over-rated and popular 'The Hangover' with this stinker. This film is barely humourous enough to raise an eyebrow and it baffles me to think that everyone involved let it be released without fixing it's myriad of flaws first. The only thing worthwhile is the soundtrack. Give 'Due Date' a wide berth.

The Tourist
The Tourist (2010)

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck proved a hot new talent with his debut masterpiece 'The Lives of Others' in 2006, but not wanting to pigeonhole himself with a similar sophomore film looked to do something different to the heavy drama that he was confident with. The problem is, he should have kept looking and steered clear of Angelina Jolie's proposal to steer this trainwreck of a film. This film is an embarrasment on many levels, and the weight of it lying on the turd of a script (which funnily enough has been worked on by some of Hollywoods best screenwriters) from which in turn comes dreadful performances from all involved, shoddy dialogue and ridiculous plot twists. It makes me wonder what the talent involved in this film was thinking when putting this shameful excuse for a film together. Avoid at all costs.

Catfish
Catfish (2010)

Marketed as a 'Reality Thriller', Catfish is building that 'word of mouth' buzz that all low budget flicks hope for. The premise is set in the world of online identity on Facebook and the breakdown in credulity that we can all face in the digital age. The events brew to a well-paced build up of mystery and tension with the added touch of poignancy, but saying much about the plot would take away from the overall experience. Many are questioning the films authenticity and citing a 'Blair Witch Project' form of audience trickery, but whichever way you sway on the matter should not ruin the genius of the film or it's thought provocation regarding our online persona.

Lemmy
Lemmy (2011)
½

Lemmy and Ozzy maybe the Grandaddy's of metal, but the former unlike the latter has not become a parody of himself, he humbly does what he does and if you don't like it, stick it. Lemmy is such an iconic character with his gruff charisma seeping from his pores. He is lives a humble existence, is neither apologetic nor glamourising of his sex, drugs and Rock n' Roll lifestyle. His body of work is inspirational on so many levels as described testimonially by the vast amount of metal and punk alumni that are interviewed here. This engaging doco covers alot of territory, and is never dull. All music fans should treat themselves to this glorious expose.

Exit Through The Gift Shop
½

This must-see documentary (or possibly satire or mockumentary depending on your personal take on the events and whether it's all a hoax or not) is a totally immersive look at the 'Street Art' subculture and the secretive and elusive characters that inhabit this world, as filmed by crazy Frenchman Thierry. Thierry hunting down the elusive Banksy (Director) starts to look to be the focus of the film, until the tables turn and Thierry's story seems to become the diamond in the rough. The doco may or may not be a statement on Art in todays society, take what you want from it, but just damn well see it!

Unstoppable
Unstoppable (2010)
½

You know what you are getting with a film like this, but it's definitely woth the ride. Tony Scott delivers the thrills, whilst Denzel and Pine give us enough drama to keep the viewer hooked. The script is serviceble, the plot ludicrous, but that doesn't spoil what is essentially a fun and thrilling ride (pun intended).

Blue Valentine

Like raw nerve-endings 'Blue Valentine' makes it's mark with searing performances from it's two leads as they portray the beginning and ending of a marriage. The performances are the crux of the film and Ryan Gosling once again stamps his mark on 'the actor of his generation' status that I often see next to his monicker. Michelle Williams has a tough role and handles it with guts also. This film is not a pleasant night in, but those who endure will be rewarded with this powerful and affecting film.

Freakonomics
Freakonomics (2010)

Less than the sum of it's parts, this documentary about human behavoiur in relation to economics is patchy at best. Some segments are intriguing, but most are a little dull and uninspired. Fans of the book may find more wealth here than the general public at large.

Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
½

Powerful and riveting stuff. See it!

Contact
Contact (1997)
½

Fantastic to rediscover this classic film on Blu-Ray. Some label the film as preachy and pretentious, I personally think it is a science vs. faith think-piece that has been given due care and attention by all the talent involved. Carl Sagan would have been proud of this testament to his lifes work.

127 Hours
127 Hours (2010)
½

Danny Boyle is not one to be pigeon-holed, presenting this time a true-story of survival in it's purest form to add to his great and diverse resume of films. James Franco plays the young adventuring spirit of Aron Ralston who get's himself in a pickle that to most would have meant death. Franco's performance is the crux of the film and the quiver inducing scenes of self mutilation in order to survive are not gratuitous but filmed with honesty and respect. '127 Hours' is a mesmerising 95 mins that has to be seen.

Stone
Stone (2010)

A tough drama with some solid acting by an all-star cast. The plot is simple and a little generic, with no great revelations or surprises and meanders along at slow pace. There is a lot of religious subtext to the piece that doesn't seem to go anywhere and the conclusion feels flat and undercooked. Not a bad film, just not really much to chew on after it's over

True Grit
True Grit (2010)

The Coen Bros. go back to the orginal source novel rather than the 50's John Wayne starrer to carve another notch of masterpiece on their brilliant resume of films. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld tackles the delicious dialogue with such ease that her performance creates a sense of awe. The triple threat of Bridges, Damon and Brolin are all class, with Jeff bridges 'Rooster Cogburn' balancing grit, grace and menace with the professionalism that's expected of him. There is a lot to savour here, between the witty and often funny script, Roger Deakin's perfect lensing and the engaging hymn infused score. But most of all it's the masterful handling of the plot and the characters whilst always focussing on the young 14yr old star as the crux of the film, that for me ranks this film as one of the 'All-Time' great westerns.

Exam
Exam (2008)
½

I love finding gems like this. Exam is a curious examination of human nature and morality coming to play in a 'Cube' meets television show 'The Apprentice' like scenario. Yes the film economically uses it's low budget constraints to work within one room for the entire film and is not without minor flaws, but hell it's an engaging and mind-bending little thriller that will keep you intrigued until the very last frame. Highly Recommended.

The King's Speech

A remarkable film on all counts. The acting is of the highest order as is the golden script, spellbinding score and impeccable framing. The balance of humour and drama is so finely tuned that it is possible to cry with both laughter and sadness on many ocassions. The insight into the workings of a tumultous period of the Brit Royals is one rarely seen, and this first time film director should be very proud of his achievements in delivering such a masterful work.

Somewhere
Somewhere (2010)

Sofia Coppola's fourth film is disappointingly tedious. It languishes in long cuts and sparse and unsatisfying dialogue, whilst still managing to draw us along with the slightest hint of fulfillment. Steven Dorff plays his vacuous and bored film star 'Johnny Marco' with a relaxed performance, whilst Elle Fanning shines as his daughter bringing meaning into his otherwise shallow existence. There is no doubt that Sofia Coppola directs with a certain style that harks back to french new-wave of the 60's, but for me she got it right with 'Lost in Translation' and missed the mark with 'Somewhere'.

Never Let Me Go

A finely crafted and well executed film that is both guarded in it's explanations and answers, but revealing enough to give ponderance to all the mystery. Their is a sense of impending doom over the proceedings and extremely talented Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley are perfect in selling it to us. There is beauty in Mark Romanek's every frame, grace in all of Alex Garland's adapted words and a uniqueness in the way all is revealed and played that makes it one of the years standouts.

Black Swan
Black Swan (2010)

Darren Aronofksy adds another jewel to his already impressive resume of films, not unlike his other films he focuses on obsession and addiction again but this time taking us into the graceful world of ballet. Aronofsky has been heavily influenced by Polanski's 'Repulsion' in showing the psychological terror that bears down on Natalie Portmans Nina as she makes her trajectory to the coveted Swan Queen role in Thomas Leroys (Vincent Cassel) new version of 'Swan Lake'. Saying much more about the plot would be criminal, but the film brilliantly builds and builds to a climax much like the brilliant 'Reqiuem for a Dream', where the sheer magnetism of all the elements combined (performances, score and editing) takes your breath away and leaves you totally affected by the end credits. Portman's performance is the best of her career and Mila Kunis is star in the making. The blend of psycholgical horror and the grace of ballet would seem to be an unlikely pairing, but in the hands of the masterful Aronofsky, a true masterpiece is created.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole (2010)

Brave performances from both Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as grief-stricken parents living in the aftermath of their young sons death. The pace is measured and delicate and the performances are natural and touching. The film is crafted with tender care, and will no doubt be showered with acclaim for it's skillful handling of grim subject matter.

City Island
City Island (2010)

An extremely entertaining comedic drama about a dysfunctional family and the skeletons in their closets. Andy Garcia is particularly impressive in a rare comic performance whilst Emily Mortimer shines as always. The script has some golden moments but also misses a few opportunities to flesh out some of the cast of many characters, but this is not to the detriment of the film, and one would be hard pressed to not find some gold here. Recommended.

Cemetery Junction
½

Being a massive fan of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and their much adored series (plural) The Office and Extras, I was intrigued as to how they would pull off a full length feature. I am pleased to say that 'Cemetary Junction' is quite a successful film on most fronts. Cliche and predictability aside, there is much to enjoy here, with great dialogue and comic moments, fine performances from all involved in a believable period setting. Worth looking at.

Easy A
Easy A (2010)

A surprisingly smart and funny teen flick that riffs heavily on 'The Scarlet Letter' (The novel, not the Demi Moore travesty) and relies on clever and interesting dialogue much like 'Juno' or 'Clueless' to make it much more than another teen flick. Emma Stone is captivating as is all the cast who seem to be having quite a bit of fun with this charmer.

Splice
Splice (2010)

An intriguing modern-day Frankenstein flick that explores the moral and social implications of science and genetics. Vincenzo Natali always shows much promise with his films (Cube, Cypher), but never quite meets that level of fulfillment. Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley are always a solid choice to star in a film, but at times it felt that both were sleepwalking with this material. The film travels along quite well but heads into some absurd areas past the half-way point and never quite recovers. An interesting watch nonetheless.

The Loved Ones

Australian horror buffs rejoice, we have another sick and twisted entry into the canon which exceeds 'Wolf Creek' for sheer creepiness and terror. Boasting a soundtrack that includes both 'Parkway Drive' and 'Kasey Chambers' and a cinematic glow that brings to mind early John Hughes films... but with loads of blood. Top notch performances really sell this impressive and inventive genre film. The squeamish beware.

Four Lions
Four Lions (2010)

'Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point.' This synopsis would appear to be quite a controversial scenario in most circles, and has caused it's fair share of outcry since released, but the simple fact of the matter is this a courageous and oft hiliarious comedy about a group of totally idiotic and dim-witted want to be martyrs who don't even seem to understand why they want to blow themselves or 'the enemy' up (this is demonstrated in a quote when asked by a hostage why? "i cant explain, but if brother omar were here, i swear he'd tell ya knowledge proper good."). The script has loads of memorable crackers and sports a talented cast that have no problem selling the situation. Satirical and smart this attack on the stupidity of suicide bombing is a one of kind film.

American: The Bill Hicks Story
½

A true genius and a legendary comic voice is brought back to life in this unique autobiographical documentary. Photo-animated sequences intercut with key stand-up routine moments and talking head interviews help us all feel as if we know the amazingly inspiring Bill Hicks just a little more personally than what he already shared in his comic work until his tragic passing in '94. If only we could all think and speak out like he did a little more, the world may be a little better for it.

Sixteen Candles
½

John Hughes films have been influential on so many levels, even 26 years on it is easy to enjoy these larger than life characters in everyday '80's life. Molly Ringwald's charm and Anthony Michael Hall's comic timing are king as is the hit after hit soundtrack that carries this fun flick along.

The Messenger

A very affecting dramatisation of what could be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster play U.S Army officers assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification service. Outstanding performances from all involved, (Woody was deservedly awarded an oscar nomination earlier this year.) Ben Foster and Woody enhance each others performance in this heavy-hitting drama from the home-front.

Morvern Callar
½

Samantha Morton is always compelling and complex, and really shines in this dark and gritty drama. The look and sound of the film creates an ominous tone, giving the viewer no option but to go on the journey and step into Morvern Callar's shoes for just a while.

Gerry
Gerry (2003)
½

Gus Van Sant is in the true sense an experimental film-maker much like other contempories such as Soderbergh or Von Trier he seems to want to polarize his audience by constantly challenging them drawing fans with successes like 'Good Will Hunting' and 'Finding Forrester' and then losing them with non-narrative experiments like 'Elephant' or 'Last Days'. 'Gerry' falls into the latter category with it's minimalist structure and what would seem to be a complete lack of narrative and purpose. Some may decide to delve into this philoshophically and gain some value out of the 'journey' that Damon and Affleck are on, but most will find this an utter bore. I myself will sit on the fence.

How to Train Your Dragon
½

I never expected an animation from Dreamworks that would rival Pixar, but alas this film is near perfect and one for all to enjoy. One of the years best films!

The Other Guys

Some big action set-pieces and some decent humour make for a mostly enjoyable watch. We have all seen this many times before though...

Winter's Bone
½

A bleak but enriching experience, 'Winter's Bone' is an unsettling slow-burn drama/thriller set in small community in the Ozark Mountains, where the inhabitants live by their own code and will stop at nothing to uphold it. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of the protagonist is an unflinching and inspiring performance that should garner some attention come Oscar time. Director Debra Granik should be applauded for her subtlety and restraint in the tone and pacing of this film.

The Kids Are All Right

Very enjoyable and realistic drama with some fine dialogue and spot-on performances from all involved. Mark Ruffalo is amazing as always. Deserving of the praise and attention it is receiving.

Monsters
Monsters (2010)

Budgetary restraints prove no barrier for first time director Gareth Edwards as he delivers a minimalist gem and proves that you don't need the big bucks, just a laptop and some Adobe know-how to create some astounding and effective VFX. The key to getting this right was by focusing on the relationship of the two leads as opposed to the situation they are faced with. The film feels natural and realistic and relies on mood and tone to keep the audience involved. Most may have to remove their Hollywood/MTV glasses to enjoy the slow-burn pace of this film, but the indie fans among us will be delighted.

The Social Network

Fincher you talented bastard! How is it that you consistently create masterpiece after masterpiece?
It's no coincidence that this timely and socially relevant film is connecting with audiences and critics alike, TSN is sheer genius film-making. Aaron Sorkin's cracking script is brought to life by David Fincher's absolute control of his craft, moving everything along at quick-fire (surely intentional) pace, composing an almost 'Rashomon' like style of film, building everything on the depositions of the litigious parties involved in the two pronged law suits. Eisenberg and Timberlake are revelations in their roles and deliver their dialogue as if they have lived this experience. Trent Reznor's pulsing and dynamic score is effective and emotive as usual. The film speaks on so many levels about youth, friendship and identity and is brilliantly book-ended by two perfect scenes that display the layers of this. David Fincher is one of few true modern-day auteurs that can create films that deliver above and beyond hype and expectation, which makes me so excited to see what he brings to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo".

The Town
The Town (2010)
½

Ben Afflecks sophomore attempt at directing (after the masterful 'Gone Baby Gone') proves he is not just a flash in the pan. This magnificent film has all the hallmarks of the great films of it's genre ( Michael Mann's 'Heat' or Kubricks 'The Killing') and stands proudly along side some of the best. Affleck proves that as an actor turned director he can really draw out amazing and nuanced performances from his cast, and basing the film once again in his hometown Boston, gives an air of authenticity to what what we see on screen. 'The Town' is perfectly paced with ample breathing space between the tense heist scenes. This will rank as one of the years best.

Time Out (L' Emploi du temps)
½

This film is incredibly unsettling, but achieves this mood in such a subtle way. As with Vincent's family, the viewer is also in the dark about Vincent's double life and the depth of his mid-life crisis. The haunting and affecting score is used effectively and the performances are brilliantly understated. This is a masterful piece of French Cinema which had unfortunatley slipped under my radar.

Red
Red (2010)

"Retired Extremely Dangerous" ex-CIA agents Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) relive their former glory when their quite mundane lives are turned on their heads. RED walks a fine line between blockbuster action and (very light) comedy and manages to get it mostly right mainly due to the talent on board. Malkovich is gleefully nutso and Mirren is gracefully murderous with the rest of the cast adequate. Mary-Louise Parkers character was probably the most redundant for mine and could have been fleshed out more. Based on a cult graphic novel, this film would have been more successful with some sharper dialogue and some humourous one-liners, but all in all RED is decent mindless entertainment.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

This film is totally engaging even if the stock market is gobbledigook to most of us simple folk. The performances are superb by an all star cast, and the screen glistens whenever Michael Douglas is front and centre (although it's not a patch on what he delivers in the original). The problem with the film dilemma of the moral ambiguity at it's core, although it's a world of sharks and scoundrels, it's hard to take all the deceit and treachery (esp. between family members) too seriously. A film worthy of your time, but not of your respect.

Buried
Buried (2010)
½

Genius little thriller, that as the poster states "Would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud". Ryan Reynolds shows his acting range as we spend 90mins cooped up in a coffin with him riding the emotional waves as he fights for his life. Claustrophobic in the cinema setting, this film makes me very eager for future works from this talented Spanish director.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
½

Concluding Stieg Larsson's 'Millenium Trilogy' this film betters the previous chapter in it's delivery and story. 'Hornets Nest' feels more cohesive holding my interest for the entire running length. Although still not quite up to the standard of 'Dragon Tattoo' in it's cinematic style and vision, it still ties everything up quite nicely. I await David Finchers realisation of these films.

Animal Kingdom
½

Critical ravings are justified in this superb debut from Aussie director David Michod. I have anxiously waited months to see what the hype was all about, and can now wax lyrical on what I believe is the finest Australian film to grace us since Lantana. The performances are sublime particularly Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, The score perfectly unsettles and bathes the whole film in tension and mood and the screenplay has obviously been lovingly nurtured for years like a good wine before filming began. This is a world beyond 'Underbelly' but fans of that should definitley not miss this.

Predators
Predators (2010)

This so-so attempt to reinvigorate a tainted franchise seems like a missed opportunity. This 'Cube' cross 'Predator' attempt is cliche ridden and a little bland. The characters and script are a little underdeveloped but typical for a genre piece such as this, so it's hard to be too critical. For action junkies only.

Music Within
Music Within (2007)
½

Ron Livingston is surprisingly effective in this engaging true-story about ADA movement leader Richard Pimentel. The film rockets through a little too quickly, feeling under-developed and relying heavily on an array of catchy period tunes where a little breathing space would help to connect us to the characters a little more. The voice-over keeps it an an almost TV movie level, and could have been handled a little differently to make it more cinematic. Well worth your time.

Machete
Machete (2010)

Machete doesn't pretend to be anything but a big dirty Grindhouse classic that was merely hinted at with the faux trailer that was nestled between 'Planet Terror' and 'Death Proof. Danny Trejo wreak havoc as Machete whilst the rest of the cast is having a ball with their cheesy dialogue, hell it could be Steven Seagal's career best performance. A brash, brutal fun-fest that lives up to the brief.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day (2010)

I can see where they were trying to go with this film... 'Romancing the Stone' crossed with 'True Lies', but maybe those behind the film should have gone for some plot, a script and maybe a test audience before unleasing this ridiculous romp on the world. Two A-List stars, stunts and some exotic locations do not a good film make, unless you have some substance to back it up. Mangold is a hack and this is a pure example of Hollywood having too much money to waste on dross.

Get Him to the Greek

Lot's of silliness and grotesque humour just for the sake it, keeps this film at the middle rung on the comedy ladder. Some entertaining performances from all involved esp. Brand, Byrne and Sean Combs, but as a spin-off from 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' this is not quite in the same league.

Frozen
Frozen (2010)

The concept is simple and intriguing: Three skiers left stranded on a chair-lift after the run shuts down for five days with no phones and no trace of their whereabouts. The trailer worked well to suck me into this, and it is partly effective with some genuine moments of dread. The big problem is the lack of character depth and clunky script puts this well short of it's clever thriller aspirations.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
½

Werner Herzog's curiously titled film could be rightly thought of as a sequel to Abel Ferrara's cult classic 'The Bad Lieutenant', but it is claimed to not have anything to do with said film. Nicholas Cage plays his kooky best as a drug addled cop with no moral compass, happily using both sides of the law to fuel his addictions. Performances and plot are OTT which is Herzog's strength, and Cage is the centerpiece of which the film revolves. Finely balanced performances from the supporting cast level out the drug hazed view that the audience experiences through Cage's eyes, making this outrageous romp a fun and always interesting ride.

The Killer Inside Me

This hard-boiled American Noir piece based on Jim Thompson's controversial 1952 novel has been no stranger to controversy itself.
The graphic brutality assaults the senses and asks the viewer to take a ride into the mind of an amoral and remorseless killer. Casey Affleck's portrayal of protagonist Lou Ford is played with flawless execution (much like his role in Gone Baby Gone) as is the careful direction from Michael Winterbottom. A solid and disturbing character piece which is well played by all involved, with especially brave performances from Affleck, Alba and Hudson.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

Disappointing middle film of the 'Millenium Trilogy'. Having read that the two follow up films to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" were made for TV in Sweden with different directors on a lesser budget, I was reasonably worried that the standard of the first film would not be met. This film is quite a mess and lacks the emotion and intrigue of the first film. It focusses on underdeveloped characters and forsakes the most interesting parts of it's predecessor - the detective work. All the cast seem bored with the material and apart from a few impressive set-pieces, it really shows a lack of cinematic spark that the first film had. I would be curious to read the novel and see how much better it is than this adaptation.

Date Night
Date Night (2010)

An acceptable comedy with some solid humour and surprising cameos. The ridiculous plot that merely carries the couple through the film to reach a realisation about their relationship is pure Hollywood trash, but then again this film is not one to be looked too deeply into. Enjoy at your own risk.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Watched the Gran-daddy of all Science Fiction again, and it never fails to astound. I can only imagine what this master-work would have been like to those who watched it in 1968, having never seen such a vision of the future or Space travel. Of course this is Kubrick at the height of his technical and creative powers, defining the future of cinema, influencing many who would come after and creating an achievement that will always be studied, examined and admired for generations to come. The beauty is that every single perspective or interpretation of the meaning or logic of the film is unique to the individual. The minimalist performances, the epic soundtrack and the visual dynamics are all window dressing for the depth benath the surface. Trip the light fantastic...

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

It's definitely turning out to be the year of exhilirating cinema, with 'Kick Ass' and 'Inception' and now 'Scott Pilgrim' proving to be the saviours of originality and imagination when all seems lost in quagmire of remakes, rehashes and sequels. Damn this film is exciting, bubbling over with homage and reverance to all the things that I grew up on and lived for. Mario, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Seinfeld and Flash Gordon are just some of the clever references that enhances the joy of this film, hell Scott Pilgrim even wears my favourite shoes (Adidas Superstars) of all time. Michael Cera is perfect in this role as the love-struck hero who has to fight for his dream-girl and defeat her seven evil ex's as if they were video game bosses. Foes are turned into coins upon defeat, there is even an awesome Bass guitar battle against a psychic vegan. I could babble all day, but I will sum up by saying that Edgar Wright is a voice of a generation, and his films are works of pure genius. Whilst not everyone will revel in it's nostalgia, and some will simply not get the point, I will adore this film over and over again.

Salt
Salt (2010)

Boasting a ludicrous plot full off ridiculous twists and cliches, Salt is definitely film you will be wishing you hadn't wasted 90 mins of your life on. The normally serviceable and reliable cast are sleepwalking through this mess which feels like it was strung together by a director with less talent than Phillip Noyce. Yawn...

Angel-A
Angel-A (2005)
½

Luc Besson's return to the Directors chair is a very engaging little tale of morality, love and inner beauty and all the harsh lessons in between. An Angel (Rie Rasmussen) is sent down to help a con-man (Jamel Debbouze) dig himself out of his hole and as is the French way, a complicated love affair ensues. The monochromatic vision of Paris is striking as is the radiant beauty of Rie's angel. The script is more than adequate for the dialogue heavy film, and the plot has enough bursts of humour and drama to flesh out the age-old tale. Besson has shown much talent in his career, but is especially good when he keeps it simple as he has in this. Recommended.

The Tenant
The Tenant (1976)

The book end film to Polanski's "Apartment trilogy" is an intriguing exercise in paranoia and madness through isolation. While not as wholly successful as 'Repulsion' or the grand 'Rosemary's Baby' it is still Polanski in fine form. He has been criticised for playing the lead role himself, I personally think he brings alot of himself and his circumstance at the time to the part, and delivers a fine balance of insanity and comic flourishes to sell it. There are plenty of red herrings which some would cause some to try and decipher the plot (eg. the Egyptology angle), but that would be hardly the point. Polanski is a cinematic genius who has never been afraid to tackle any subject matter in his films, this film is a testamant to that.

The Wolfman
The Wolfman (2010)

Joe Johnston as a visual artist or a SFX guy is very capable as evidenced in this film and his previous work, but as a Director he has a lot to answer for!
The cast (although very suitable for their roles) seem to be sleepwalking through this incredibly tedious remake of the 1940's hammer classic. The pacing is snails pace and the editing and script are less than adequate. Noone seems to know how to play this, whether it be a nod and a wink to it's source or as a serious mood piece, either way it's a bore that is best left alone.

The A-Team
The A-Team (2010)
½

Rarely do old TV show or video game film remakes work. Here is an exception. The A-Team is an overblown action blockbuster that delivers. The film is pedal to the metal in it's pacing, the four A-Teamers are played superbly and the action sequences are a whole lotta fun. It's only slightly let down by some underwritten caricature like secondary characters. Switch your brain off and have fun with this.

Focus
Focus (2001)

Gave this a re-watch. William H. Macy, Meat Loaf, Laura Dern and David Paymer show respect for Arthur Millers revered material with some knockout performances in a pot-boiler that only just transcends it's stage trappings. The message is heavy-handed but a necessary reflection of the period in 1940's America where paranoia is bursting at the seams. Some strange angles and editing are jarring at times, but it is still a solid piece of work from first timer Director Neil Slavin.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Obviously their is a lot of expectation with the "Millenium trilogy" adaptations, with the novels being so lauded with praise and the talented David Fincher filming the American version currently. Having not read the books I venture into the Swedish film versions with much excitement. I was slowly drawn into what became a very tense and well executed thriller, with elements of serial killer investigation, brutality against woman, revenge and nail-biting action. Beautifully filmed and realised within it's Swedish landscape, the characters are mostly believable and engaging. As with all thrillers of this ilk, their are plot holes and at times convenient revelations that keep it from being flawless, but all in all "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is a highly successful piece of cinema which will hopefully carry through into the following two films.

L.A. Confidential

A welcome re-visit of this cracking film from '97. The stunningly framed lens work scrubs up beautifully on Blu-Ray, feeling as potent as the day I saw it at the cinema. A corker of a script by Brian Helgeland is executed perfectly by Director Curtis Hanson, proving that when Hollywood can marry as stellar cast with outstanding material, the machine is hard to beat!

Inception
Inception (2010)

With soaringly high expections I have been itching to see modern master of cinema Christopher Nolan's new offering. I am ecstatic to say that my expectations were met and exceeded, how can I not gush about this astonishing, ground-breaking masterpiece.
Warner Bros. has put alot of stock in Nolan after his success with the Batman begins and The Dark Knight, and we as an audience are the blessed, being able to fork out good money to see an 'intelligent' blockbuster instead of the usual trash we are expected to suffer.
Nolan apparently spent 10 years crafting the story for this complex (but accessible) tale of dream and reality, dropping us into a complex web of dystopian corporate espionage, where Di Caprio's 'Cobb' is the master of manipulating the dreamworld to hijack secrets from the unsuspecting, but also struggling to fight his own demons. He is hired with his crew to create an 'Inception' (plant an idea that will grow into reality) on a rival corporate leader, but the situation has numerous complexities. To say much more about the plot would be harmful to the first time-viewer so I will gush about the production itself. Everything is massive, the sweeping Hans Zimmer score is effectively committed to stirring the viewer, Wally Pfister's fluid camera work is expansive and captivating. Performances are superb by all particularly Di Caprio and Cottillard and the way the complex material is handled and delivered is all thanks to a perfect script and a visionary director.
Inception is mind blowing, challenging enough for repeat viewings and important enough to be classed with the greatest films of all time. It is a dazzling and mesmerising work that has true genius behind it. You are crazy if you miss it...

A Single Man
A Single Man (2009)

Fashion designer Tom Ford dishes up a visual feast with his debut directorial effort featuring the wonderful Colin Firth as a gay man in '60's L.A. planning how to best deal with overcoming he grief of his 'life partner' sudden exit from our realm. The story is simplistic yet complex in it's themes, shot in a sumptuous dream-like way melding flash-backs and current day events seamlessly. The use of colour is quite unique, a washed out sepia tone imbues all the scenes when it feels all is hopeless and lifeless, and then vibrant and over-saturated dashes of colour fill the frame when revelations of hope and happiness touch his life or memories. All performances are honest and pitch perfect, particularly from Firth. I anticipate more solid offerings from Tom Ford in the future.

The Ghost Writer

Roman Polanski turns out a damn fine Hitchcockian thriller casting the always reliable Ewan Mcgregor as a writer hired to write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang and along the way gets embroiled in a political conspiracy that could cost him his life. Roman is no stranger to tension and intrigue (Chinatown, Rosemary's baby, the Tenant etc.) employing the brilliant Alexandre Desplat to add to this with an almost Bernard Herrmann like score. Some clunky plot points aside, 'The Ghost Writer' is a hypnotic success with one of the most perfectly constructed ending sequences I have seen for some time.

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

Another excellent Rock doco from Sam Dunn portraying one of the worlds biggest but most underrated bands. I have never been one to gush about Rush as a band. I can appreciate their musicianship and it's influence on the vast amounts of prog I listen to, but I think Geddy Lee's voice has always annoyed me and their vast back catalogue has always been a little daunting. The impressive thing about this document on their career is that I immediatly sought to rectify this and am now ready to "get into" Rush. This doesn't have the high drama or complexity of other rock/metal documentaries, but has an honesty and humility that suits the band and what they stand for. Highly recommended.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 (2010)
½

Wonderful, delightful and a perfect closure to a brilliant trilogy from the genius minds of PIXAR.

For a Few Dollars More (Per Qualche Dollaro in Pił)
½

The second installment in the 'Dollars trilogy' widens out and breathes more life than it's predecessor, with the introduction of Lee Van Cleef's Bounty Hunter with a past and a purpose who teams up with 'The man with no name' to take down a tough gang of bandits. Leone's visual style kicks up a notch and the story is more complex and involved. Lee Van Cleef counter-balances Clint Eastwood perfectly, equally as cool. The set pieces are just as memorable as the fabulous cast and you would be hard pressed to find a better example of the westtern genre (that is if Leone had not bettered it with his next two.)

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

It's time for a long overdue re-visit to the grandiose body of work that was Sergio Leone's, starting at the beginning with the 'Fistful of Dollars'.
It is said that Leone adored Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo' so much that he decided to remake it as a western. And so started the rebirth of the dying western genre with a new breed of made in Italy/Spain 'Spaghetti Westerns' as they were nicknamed. Newcomer Clint Eastwood flew to Europe to embody a character that would be referred to as 'The man with no name' in Leone's 'Dollars trilogy'. Although this is the most compact and simple of Leone's films, it firmly establishes his key visual style, penchant for violence without moral judgement and talent for story-telling. Ennio Morricone's potent scores are stuff of legend and are a character in themselves. Fistful is a throughly enjoyable film, which was only the tip of the iceberg in what was to come.

Valhalla Rising
½

Not one to spoonfeed the masses with his art (see his previous controversial film 'Bronson'), Nicholas Winding Refn has offered up an arthouse viking epic which according to my research ties in closely to the mythical Norse God 'Odin' and his ascension. Valhalla Rising is not for casual viewing, to most it would be a demanding, bleak and painful watch. But on the other hand, one could view this as a thoughtful piece, possibly inspired by the similarly paced 1979 Tarkovsky masterpiece 'Stalker'.
The film is shot digitally and with subdued hues and tones using bold title cards as chapters to punctuate. Nightmarish red fills the screen to take us into 'One eyes' visions whilst the use fog fills the viewer uncertainty and dread. Mads Mikkelsen imbues his mute character with a presence that is the crux of the film.
Valhalla Rising is brutal and challenging material, which I believe to be worthwhile viewing, although it does lose it's way and seem pointless initially, post-viewing research on it's themes and inspirations will help solidify it's worth.

Yes Man
Yes Man (2008)

YES it's predicatable, YES it is standard hollywood rom-com fare, YES it is silly and has many underwritten characters. But YES it is also pleasantly fun and amusing, and YES Rhys Darby is the best thing about the film (hilarious). Go along for the ride if you want a no-brainer.

Oldboy
Oldboy (2005)

I took the opportunity to re-visit this masterpiece again. I still consider it to be one of the 20 best films of the last decade. Oldboy put the Korean film industry on the map when it was released in 2005, from which much acclaim has come from the output of key korean directors since. Park Chan-wook set the bar very high offering up a film that is constantly inventive, compelling stylish and ultra-cool. Oldboy could be a platform for many into the amazing world of foreign film, so if you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?

Gwoemul (The Host)
½

I enjoyed 'The Host' even more on second viewing. Joon-Ho Bong has quickly become one of my fave Korean Directors along with Chan-Wook Park, and with this classic monster film he shows his flair for cinematic style to compliment his masterful character interplay and his command of story that he had already proven with his previous masterpiece 'Memories of Murder'. Memorable scenes such as the opening monster attack and the skillfully handled climax are tense and taut, the disfunctional family interplay is touching and comical, and the CGI works amazingly. This director has a body of work to be jealous of (including this years masterpiece 'Mother') and should be sought out by any self-proclaimed film buff!

Hot Tub Time Machine
½

Surprising funny and enjoyable romp back in time. The '80's setting offers many comedic gem moments, with some great perfrmances from all involved. Recommended.

She's Out of My League

Standard rom-com fare with some genuinely funny dialogue and moments.

Cold Souls
Cold Souls (2009)
½

Although obviously inspired by and compared to 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and 'Being John Malkovich', 'Cold Souls' stands on it's own to feet and aks us to examine the importance of our own souls and mortality. The film is intentionally gloomy, dreary and absurd, but this lends to the characters and subject matter within. Giamatti is always revelation, and sends himself up in a perfectly deadpan way. Most will find it a stretch to enjoy the film, others will find it rewarding.

I Love You Phillip Morris
½

This enjoyable romp will be a shock to many viewers who go in to this expecting another frivoulous Jim Carrey slapstick piece. The film is quite confronting in it's gay sex themes but that plot point aside, it's actually a comedic tragedy with restrained and at times touching performances from Carrey and the always amazing McGregor. Their is plenty to like in Steve Russell's con-man exploits and will confound viewers with the fact that it is based on a true story. To enjoy the film, most will have to leave homophobia at the door and go along for the ride.

Nowhere Boy
Nowhere Boy (2010)
½

Rather than biopic John Lennon's rise to fame, this piece successfully dramatises his life course and choices in the impressionable teenage years. The film is neat and tidy with some emotional performances, particularly from Kristin Scott Thomas. For Beatles fans it will be a joy to see The Quarrymen' years aswell as the entrance of McCartney and Harrison into Lennon's life.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood (2010)

What well-worn and weary road we travel here. Yet another revisionist tale of an overdone historical figure, that is sadly predictable, lacks excitement and adventure and fails to (as the hype will have you believe) be "The definitive Robin Hood film". The once "Visionary" director Ridley Scott is churning out patcy film after patchy film, and dragging a bunch of great actors along with him. The saddest thing is that the film is the origin story of Robin Hood, the better film would have been the one we all know, Robin Hood as the outlaw.

Youth in Revolt

Yeah yeah, Michael Cera plays the same role in every film, but who cares! He is so good at delivering witty dialogue and always performs brilliantly what is asked of him. This film is a quirky and witty indie comedy that has some cracking one liners. Any film that name drops Ozu, Fellini and Godard 'has me at hello'. I particularly enjoyed Nicks french bad boy alter-ego and the varied array of characters that make this film so fun to watch.

Food, Inc.
Food, Inc. (2009)
½

A solid documentary exposing the big business behind everything we eat. Will be an eye opener for most, and will turn a few into vegetarians no doubt. The film has an impressive title sequence and is structured well. Recommended.

The Book of Eli
½

I have always eagerly anticipated the "Hughes Bros." new film, as they always choose interesting subjects. The issue is, they never deliver or fully realise these projects to the potential they have shown in their earlier works. "Book of Eli" much like "From Hell" smacks of potential but is quite underwhelming where it should count..."STORY". Their is alot of trite occurances and silly plot twists that will have you wishing you were watching the superior "The Road" instead. The film is visually arresting and boasts another amazing performance from Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis is very easy on the eye, but essentially the plot is too shallow to take anything away from.

[Rec]
[Rec] (2007)
½

One of the greatest horror movies I have ever seen! yikes!!!!

Yi Yi
Yi Yi (2000)
½

At 3 hours this film would be a slog for many, but to the patient ones like myself, the film is a rewarding tapestry of birth, death and everything in between. It focuses mainly around a Taiwanese family dealing with loss in love, loss in hope, loss in communication. The cinematography is voyeuristic and detached, which is intentionally suited to the tone of the piece with the performances honest and measured. Fans of 'Magnolia' or 'Short Cuts' will find this film just as rewarding.

Green Zone
Green Zone (2010)
½

Intense pacing, frenetic camerawork and a political conspiracy are all hallmarks of a Paul Greengrass film, and they are delivered in spades here. All cast are solid and the film moves at break-neck pace. Aside from it being "another" modern warfare film to add to the slew of others similar in theme, this one is definitely one of the more exciting interpretations.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass (2010)
½

What a triumph! a superhero movie that doubles as a clever homage aswell as a ballsy action flick, that is pitch perfect in tone, pace and script. Everybody is having a ball here and it infectiously spills out of the screen and onto the viewer. We have all heard the controversy surrounding Hit Girl being just 11 year old trained assasin with a mouth to be washed out with soap, but it's all in the spirit of the piece and is an element that really lends itself to the overall genius of the film. Quote of the film for me (amongst the many classics):
Dave Lizewski: How do I get a hold of you?
Hit Girl: [sarcastically] You just contact the mayor's office. He has a special signal he shines in the sky; it's in the shape of a giant cock.

One of the best of the year so far!

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 (2010)

A damn fine follow up to what was one of the best "Superhero" films to ever to grace the bloated genre. Funny, action packed and expanding on the original with more characters including a show-stopping Mickey Rourke, a scene-stealing Sam Rockwell and a breath-taking Scarlett Johansson, bigger SFX and a geeks wet dream hint-fest revealing Captain Americas shield (film coming soon) and Thor's hammer (also coming soon) post credits, aswell as Sam Jackson character alluding on numerous occasions to the Marvel Avengers film that is currently in the works also.
Iron Man 2 is for once a worthy sequel that will likely be just as successful as it's predecessor.

Tokyo Story (Tōkyō monogatari)

This often cited masterpiece is hailed as one of the greatest films of all time, and rightly so. Yasujiro Ozu along with Akira Kurosawa are the two most influential Japanese directors, both with such a different style of film-making. Ozu's style is very subtle, meditative and melodramatic with timeless and universal themes of family life that resonates as much today as it did in 30's-50's japanese society.
Tokyo Story focusses on the generation gap, and deals with selfishness, disappointment and mortality. The film is remarkable in it's visual framing and it's subtle emotion which moved me to tears on numerous occasions. A special film.

2012
2012 (2009)

I guess I knew what to expect before I sat down to watch it, and I was right, Hollywood tosh for the masses. SFX do not a good film make! Roland Emmerich's quest to make the biggest SFX movie ever feels just the same as every disaster movie he has made. Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich will continue to live in their bubble and make movies for the spoon-fed masses and think they are doing this world a great service, but I will not be fooled again...

Rise of the Foot Soldier
½

Although based on true events, this entry to the British Gangster canon of films is overly and needlessly brutal and bloody. It follows Carlton Leach for half of the film before losing it's focus and following a whole bunch of new characters. A bit of refinement and subtlety from Director Julian Gilbey would have made for a deeper and more rewarding film.

Children of Men

It was a treat to rediscover Alfonso Cuarons dystopian sci-fi masterpiece again. Shot in long-takes with frenetic pace for intentional immediacy, the viewer becomes increasingly less interested in the 'whys' and 'hows' of terrifyingly bleak vision of our future, but increasingly more concerned with the plight of the little life that offers the only hope for humankind. All cast are phenomanal, the screenplay has been reverently adapted from a P.D. James cult novel, with an incredible soundtrack featuring Radiohead and King Crimson to boot. Do yourself a favour if you have not experienced this amazing film.

Bright Star
Bright Star (2009)

Bright Star is an intoxicating and heart-wrenching piece, each exquisite frame is painterly in it's composition and Abbie Cornish is astonishing as John Keats muse. I was entralled by the complexity of the emotions displayed from all characters within the film and would be as bold to say that Jane Campion has outdone herself and created her "Magnum Opus".

The King of Comedy
½

A near perfect satire, that like Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" resonates and is as relevant today as back in 1983 when it was made. Scorsese has stated that Robert De Niro's performance in this film is the greatest he ever gave Scorsese in any of their many films together, a statement that is totally justified when you watch this critically revered but little seen film. Perfectly nuanced performances from De Niro and Lewis, a sharp screenplay and balanced and understated direction from the master, equals another near perfect film in Scorsese's brilliant resume.

Micmacs (Micmacs ą tire-larigot)

It felt like an eternity awaiting Jean-Pierre Jeunets next film. "A Very Long Engagement" was over 6 years ago, and "Amelie" was 9 years ago, and the wait was almost worth it. "Micmacs" is as you would expect from Jeunet; fun, quirky, colourful, inventive and very French. The plot loses focus at times in order to maintain these staple ingredients in the film. At times there are flourishes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin and even Terry Gilliam, but always Jeunets personal touch of eccentricity flows through the film. Delicatessan and Amelie are the closest comparisons as to what to expect, which is a hell of a fun ride. Highly Recommended.

Leaves of Grass
½

Tim Blake Nelson directs this little curiosity, that sees Edward Norton play identical twins, one a southern hick embroiled in criminal entanglement, the other a college professor/philosopher that is drawn into his brothers mess to become an alibi. This film is equally dramatic as it is comedic and all involved play their part to serve the story, no matter how silly it becomes. Very enjoyable.

North by Northwest
½

It was a joy to re-visit this Hitchcock classic again, and it scrubs up amazingly well on Blu-ray. One of Hitchcocks most fun and adventurous romps, it has more memorable set-pieces than you can poke a stick at. Timeless.

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton is in a bit of a predicament! His films used to be a wonderful event, but are now starting to feel stale and predictable. I more speak of his adaptations of classics (Charlie and the chocolate factory and this) becoming "hack" jobs, feeling like anyone could have made this film, lacking the dark imaginations and sense of wonder that were always the staple of a Tim Burton film. Yes it is visual and imaginative (but still not enough for my expectations of Burton), but dare I say it, a little dull and underwhelming. Burton.. Please stop with the remakes, and get back to making dark, original and interesting films again please.

Harry Brown
Harry Brown (2010)
½

This tough as nails british drama, should have been titled "Pensioner Vigilante". I have seen some brutal British crime films in my time, but this is up there with the best. Michael Caine shows how bloody brilliant he is once again, as he takes on the drug fuelled youth of the London projects single-handedly. I will be damned if some of these junkies are not the real deal, in performances too real to be just "treading the boards" . Incredibly tense and mesmerising, be sure to bring a spare set of fingernails to chew on!

Edge of Darkness
½

A very solid albeit familiar thriller. Good to see Mel back on the acting horse, and proves he can still spit passionate chunks of dialogue out on par with the best of 'em. Ray Winstone is always a joy to watch. My biggest complaint is the film is all too adrenalized and doesn't let up for breathing space, which could have helped the (at times) muddy storyline.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I think there are only two camps for Terry Gilliam, Love him or Hate him, with "Twelve Monkeys" was probably one of his only films that bridged that gap for most. I personally have always been a big fan of the majority of his work, with classics like "Brazil" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (amongst others) under his belt, I am always quite excited for a new journey into his imagination. This one carried alot of baggage in being Heath Ledgers last film, and it proves to be another of his unforgettable performances. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell famously stepped in to finish his parts, and saved Terry Gilliam from another derailed film (see Lost in La Mancha). The movie will be unappreciated by those who don't aren't fans of the Pythonesque humour, fantasy worlds and a dash of silliness. But to the rest, there is much to enjoy in this wonderfully crazy piece of art. Farewell Heath....

Kęrlighed på Film (Just Another Love Story)

A handsomely filmed swedish thriller that is uncomfortable, brutal, engaging and at times quite a stretch to take seriously. Fans of Haneke and Von Trier will get a kick out of this film as I did.

Lemming
Lemming (2006)

A very unnerving French thriller that definitely wears it's influences on it's sleeve. Although Lynch, Kubrick, Hitchcock and Bergman are probably staples in Director Dominik Moll's film school, it would be unfair to give him his own due credit for the fine thriller he has created. All performances are pitch perfect for the material, and their is thick tension guiding the viewer and the main character Alain Getty through the events portrayed. I am excited to see what the director has in store for his next film.

The Big Lebowski

Watched again today (10+ viewings now). This classic from the Coen Bros. never ages for me. Probably my favourite comedy of all time, with my favourite movie character "The Dude" (Jeff Bridges), and one of the funniest and clever screenplays to ever be filmed. If you haven't experienced it, your loss El Duderino (if your'e not into the whole brevity thing).

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart (2009)

Another great character study in the vein of "The Wrestler" and "Leaving Las Vegas", Jeff Bridges once again shows us that he is one of the best in the business, bound for Oscar glory this year. A simple tale of washed up Country legend Bad Blake drinking away the remainder of his years until Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) enters his life and stirs up his skeletons. A finely crafted film in every way, the only gripe I had was that Jean falling for him so easily felt a little unrealistic. Jeff bridges is every bit as good as the hype would have you believe and the music was co-written and sung by Bridges also. A must see.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
½

Boasting an incredible cast (four of my fave actors) of Bridges, Clooney, McGregor and Spacey, you can't help but have as much fun with this as the cast obviously did. A riotous script with cracking dialogue helps make up for the scattershot plot (although this was also the case with the novel it was based on apparently). An abundance of pop culture references will keep trainspotters amused whilst Clooney sparkles in his best comedic role since 'O Brother where art thou". Watch and enjoy!

Triangle
Triangle (2009)
½

This film is a neat little mind-bender with obvious influence and references to "The Shining". Triangle is slickly made with convincing performances from all. The Australian scenery and actors are welcomed, but fact they needed to have American accents to have it sold internationally proves the sad state of affairs that the industry is in. This film although marketed as a horror film is more a psychological thriller and a very worthy entry into the genre.

Bronson
Bronson (2009)
½

A curious little film owing as much to "Chopper" "A Clockwork Orange" and "Snatch" as it does to it's own unique vision. Essentially a one man show from the brilliant Tom Hardy, he is changes his name to that of a star that befits him " Charles Bronson" and makes a name for himself as Britains most dangerous prisoner. A stylised true story that is as hard to watch as it is to not. Recommended!

New York, I Love You

A sweet little patchwork of vignettes centered around well... the title of the film to be exact. A pile of notable directors and actors play their part to some promising but more than often patchy odes to love in the Big Apple. Brett Ratners attempt being the least effective for mine. Worth a watch but not as memorable as the far superior Paris Je T'aime.

Shutter Island

Scorsese takes a welcome detour into psychological thriller territory, and creates a mesmerising piece loaded with intrigue, tension and vivid imagery. Leo, Ruffalo and the all-star cast play out the material perfectly (watch out for the an unexpected cameo that had me fooled 'til I realised it wasn't who I thought it was.. but I think that was the point). This movie is a classy affair, but avoid any spoilers or reviews until you see it. Recommended for fans of Cape Fear and Jacobs Ladder.

The Blind Side
½

The hype machine made me want to avoid this at all costs, but Oscar buzz made curiosity get the better of me. A typical rags to riches story with a lot of heart, well played by all including the surprising Sandra Bullock. Maybe not quite a worthy oscar contender as "Best Picture" but it is above average stuff!

The Informant!
½

An interesting portrait of a corporate whilstle-blower who confuses and confounds all he comes into contact with including the audience. The script although witty and funny, is disjointed and the characters are often hard to connect with. The soundtrack really creates a really zany atmosphere which is infectious, and helps drive the film at break-neck pace. Mark Whitacre's internal monolgues are randomly hilarious, and are perhaps an insight to a very brilliant mind. Soderbergh is patchy with his film output, but has created something quite unique with this. Well worth the ride.

An Education
An Education (2009)
½

This film is simply a joy to behold and a deserved Oscar nominee. Carey Mulligan is simply gorgeous as a teenager eager to experience what life has to offer, but has some hard lessons to learn. You can feel her brimming over like a freshly popped bottle of Moet as the older Peter Sarsgaard (always brilliant) sweeps her off her feet. Alafred Molina is also a standout as the father wanting nothing but "Oxford" education for his only child. Director Lone Scherfig has infused this film with such life and vibrance, it almost feels as if it was filmed in the '60's where it is set. Impressive on all fronts.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler (2008)

Best film of 2009 Hands down!

Seven Pounds
Seven Pounds (2008)

Solid and engaging film, Will Smith and Rosario Dawson really show off their acting chops in this. I like the way the film was built around mystery and it paid off pretty well.

Lakeview Terrace
½

Sam Jackson as the neighbour from hell. Initially I didn't think this would be as good as it was.

Marley & Me
Marley & Me (2008)

This a fantastically written film, everyone is great esp. the dog(s)!

Gran Torino
Gran Torino (2009)

Another fine film from Clint, Great performances and story result in a very powerful film.

Valkyrie
Valkyrie (2008)

Yeah sure, this could have been a more authentic German cast film, but who cares it was a damn fine thriller, perfectly paced, well acted and beautifully filmed!

Elegy
Elegy (2008)
½

What a cast! All are fantastic in their roles in this moving film.

Changeling
Changeling (2008)
½

A totally engaging and mesmerizing film. Clint Eastwoods second big achievement of the year.

Milk
Milk (2008)

Sean Penn is such a brave actor, he never disappoints. Gus Van Sant balances all sides of his film-making skills in this achievement. James Franco is also a revelation.

Rachel Getting Married
½

Thankyou Jonathan Demme!! This is my kind of film. Incredibly personal fly on the wall filmmaking, not a second to be missed ( I was spellbound). It rolls along at a perfect pace and by the time I walked out of the cinema I was emotionally drained. Exactly how I want to feel after watching something so personal and moving. Anne Hathaway plays a perfect junkie in recovery (I know people like her!!) and deserves an award for her brave performance. See this film, it's a gem!

Boy A
Boy A (2007)

A gritty british film based on real events. Engaging performances sell it!

The Strangers
½

Pointless rubbish, extremely similar to the far superior "Funny Games"

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Roman is one of my fave directors, so I was obviously intrigued by this doco minaly based around the charges laid against him and the reasons he left the U.S for good. It stays objective throughout, and is very well made and researched.

The Kite Runner

A touching piece about friendship and the road to redemption. Great performances by all involved!

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
½

It's about time you made a good film again Woody!
Very enjoyable movie set in Spain, keep it up and you might make another Annie Hall.

Let the Right One In

Great little take on the vamp genre. Set in Icy Sweden, this is more a tale on friendship than the horror of vampirism. Highly Recommended!!

Doubt
Doubt (2008)

Great performances, everything is played very low and ambiguous, and it works perfectly. I loved the use of Dutch Tilts in the cinematography keeping in the theme of uncertainty. Philip Seymour Hoffman is THE greatest actor of the last 10 years, and Streep is still the greatest female actor.

Dark City
Dark City (1998)
½

Was great to re-experience this film again with the Directors cut on Bluy-Ray. I gained a new respect for the film and will continue to draw more out of this film on repeat viewings.

Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy
½

An abstract view into one of the greatest bands in the world and the pressures and strain of fame and expectation. This period almost broke the band, and it's great to watch this now in reflection of where they have journeyed in the 12 years since.

Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon (2008)
½

Great film, def. worthy of an Oscar nom!

Frozen River
Frozen River (2008)
½

Very overrated, sure the performance was great (almost oscar worthy) but "Best Screenplay" ??? Far from it I am afraid.

The Reader
The Reader (2008)

A solid film, Kate was a star as always.

Happy-Go-Lucky

Brilliant script, and wonderfully annoying characters which only Mike Leigh can create!

Watchmen
Watchmen (2009)
½

A brave adaptation of one of TIME's Top 100 novels of all time, has come up trumps. I was mesmerized from the get-go, especially since I was so close to the material having only finished reading the Graphic Novel two nights prior.

Waltz with Bashir
½

Amazing stuff, everyone should see and respect the marvel of this film!

Better Luck Tomorrow

This was a surprise little gem I found cheap in a shop, had never heard of it... but totally loved it!

Blindness
Blindness (2008)
½

What a waste of a good idea!

American Teen
½

The title sounds corny, but this doco is is quite unique. It's filmlike (but still doco) portrayal of the pressures of Teenage Yanks on the cusp of adulthood. Quite entertaining.

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)
½

Hard to fault. A heartfelt portrayal of adolescent angst in 50's Paris.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

One of those special docos, that everyone should see! You will go through the spectrum of emotions, and walk away cursing the friggin evils of the world.

Fanboys
Fanboys (2008)

Good fun "Fanboy" romp!

Towelhead
Towelhead (2007)

A tough one to review, a movie that isn't quite sure what it wants to be, but is definitely uncomfortable viewing.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
½

A near masterpiece! One of the best Wartime Nazi Germany films I have seen. Very powerful.

Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers (1988)

A true Cronenberg classic, one of his best films. Jeremy Irons brilliant as ususal but even moreso playing identical twins. Gets better everytime I see it.

The Night of the Hunter
½

This film upset American audiences so much in the '50's that Charles Laughton only made this one classic film. Shame, coz he could have been one of the great directors.

Mary and Max
Mary and Max (2009)

Was happy to pay to see something that painstakingly took 5 years to create. Well worth it!

Brüno
Brüno (2009)
½

Takes it alot further than Borat, but also feels more staged.
Gut-hurtingly funny though!!

I Love You, Man
½

Flips the rom-com to a different angle, something all the guys can relate to!
Rudd and Segel are champs!

Coraline
Coraline (2009)
½

Another clever piece from Henry Selick.

Public Enemies

Solid entertainment, good to see Mann back in the right frame of mind after the atrocious Miami Vice. HD cinematography was a little jarring, not sure how I felt about it. A classy affair nonetheless. I was expecting "Heat" masterpiece level, but it never quite got to those heights.

The Escapist
The Escapist (2008)

Great film, I didn't recognise Joseph Fiennes til the end credits wow! A must see!

Inglourious Basterds

QT is back and rockin' the house with a mesmerising new piece of pop cinema! It's got his trademark all over it. Damn... what a find Christoff Waltz is as the "Jewhunter"
Everything about this is pure class cult-classic!!!!
Fanboy ravings....

Knowing
Knowing (2009)

What a stinking turd of a film!
Nic Cage is terrible as is the woeful script.

Surveillance
Surveillance (2009)

Interesting follow-up to Jennifer Lynches underrated "Boxing Helena". I went along for the ride, knowing that David Lynch (her father) had funded the affair and written and performed an amusing song over the closing credits.
The film tries different narrative approaches to dish out the twists and turns, and has some really fine performances, and some Lynchian moments to boot. A solid effort.

Beautiful
Beautiful (2009)

Visually arresting, wears it's influences on it's sleeve, but not much depth to this intriguing piece of Australian cinema. The director is one to watch!

Adventureland

Entertaining, but like Superbad... very generic. Kristen Stewart is overrated in the looks department, she looks rather mannish!

The Flyboys (Sky Kids)
½

This was a very cool family flick, reminded me of films I grew up watching!

District 9
District 9 (2009)
½

Genius!
So well made, you a mesmerized by every scene, edited at break-neck pace. A Must-See for film lovers!

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Endearing and touching doco, about friendship and the journey of the human spirit. it's also about a couple of 50+ year olds who have been trying to become Rock Gods since the early '80's. Hopefully this fantastic doco will finally give them their due!!!

Synecdoche, New York

Another Mindbender from Charlie Kaufman, In the Directors chair this time. Like all his scripts, this film is very personal and symbolic. Sometimes he has his head up own arse, but mostly it is engaging and deep.

500 Days of Summer

Not much to dislike here, all very charming and clever. The leads were great. Nice to see an anti-romantic comedy (of sorts)

Up
Up (2009)
½

Pixar can do no wrong (Except for Cars maybe...) A touching adventure, great characters, and touching moments of sincere love and loneliness. Clever and and funny as Pixar always do pitch perfectly. SEE IT IN 3D!!

Iron Maiden - Flight 666: The Film

Finally got to see this (on Blu-Ray, the best way!!) another awesome Doco from Sam Dunn (hope he keeps making awesome Metal Docos for many years to come). This really makes you respect the Irons, they are so dedicated to their fans, and are so consistent in what they deliver. I was getting butterflies watching this coz it was so awesome! The question begs... Why didn't I see them when they toured?????????????

Away We Go
Away We Go (2009)

Sam Mendes directs another gem, on a smaller scale than his other films though, gotta love that about him. Very insightful and tender. Just what I needed :)

State of Play

An excellent film, with another top-notch performance from Russell Crowe. Slickly made and taut throughout. Highly recommended!

The Brothers Bloom
½

Great light-hearted romp with a fine cast and clever script. Rian Johnsons previous film "Brick" was a very clever debut, and this is a very cool follow-up. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

Tenderness
Tenderness (2008)
½

Although their were some good performances, like Polsons other films, they never feel fully realised and fleshed out, or live up to their potential. This story, whilst engaging leaves you quite cold and uninterested by the finale. Meh.

Star Trek
Star Trek (2009)

What a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't have watched this movie if JJ Abrams wasn't the director, but I was intrigued. I have never been a Trekkie. but do appreciate it's fandom. This is a blockbuster that ticks all the boxes. Thoroughly enjoyable!

The Soloist
The Soloist (2009)

Entertaining and well acted by all, falls a bit short of the mark though. Leaves no real lasting impressions, doesn't say alot about the homeless and mental illness issues it raises. Plays to safe to be a solid and poignant drama that it had the potential to be.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
½

A Perfect doco on the barely seen film industry of Australia pre-'90's. QT is a big supporter and runs his mouth all through it. I am definitley hunting down some the undiscovered gems that it talks about!

Push
Push (2009)
½

Mildly entertaining piece of fantasy. 100 X better than the woeful "Jumper" of which it bears a slight resemblance.

Couples Retreat

A pretty decent comedy, which as a rarity these days, shies away from dick and fart jokes, and tries to turn out something deeper for the married couple crowd. Although it tries admirably, it comes off quite shallow and predictable.

Moon
Moon (2009)

Classic performance by Sam Rockwell, Classic score but Clint Mansell. Ingenious little film made on a low budget. One of the years best!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The best one since "The Prisoner of Azkaban".

Angels & Demons

Was a surprisingly decent thriller, much better than the abomination that was the Da Vinci Code. Well paced, reasonably shallow adaptation of the source, but enjoyable enough as a Hollywood thriller.

Pandorum
Pandorum (2009)

Starts off with plenty of intrigue, and has all the hallmarks of a creepy horror sci-fi, much like Event Horizon. It gets a bit silly, and a lot goes unanswered by the end. Quite enjoyable nonetheless.

Samson and Delilah
½

Superb film about addiction and love, dialogue is sparse, with actions speaking louder than words. A sensitive and beautiful work.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

Wanted to catch a film while in Hollywood, and it was either this or "Where the wild things are"
This film is a near-masterpiece, bringing Roald Dahl's much loved book to life. A killer script full of wits and smarts, and it looks amazing! See it as soon as you can!

Stone Bros
Stone Bros (2009)
½

A bit silly, I had read good reviews, but it's a bit overrated!

Funny People
Funny People (2009)
½

A solid effort, a more dramatic and personal effort from Apatow. Not an instant classic like "40 yr old virgin" or "Knocked Up" but still high quality with some great performances and some funny as hell dialogue and stand-up.

The Boys Are Back

Weepy of the year!!
I am man enough to admit crying for most of this film. Touching and heartfelt. Amazing performances and cinematography. Perfect soundtrack choices using Sigur Ros to beautiful and dramatic effect. Clive Owen is superb!

What Just Happened?
½

Very enjoyable film, if a bit scattered. An interesting satirical look at the film industry in Hollywood (watched it the day after we came back and recognised so many locations in the film). One of Deniro's best in a while.

Fido
Fido (2007)

Pretty decent flick I picked up in the states. Reviews claim it be hilariously funny ummm... I didnt laugh once!
Confirms my feelings on Brit humour being far superior to Yank humour ( ie. The Office) as Shaun of the Dead is 10 x better IMO.
Enjoyable film though, just don't expect a laugh-fest.

Jennifer's Body

Entertaining satire on the plight of the "Teen" using cliche (a low key band selling their soul to the devil for fame blah blah / BFF's sharing intimate lesbian kisses) stereotypes and horror all in good measure. Key point is the dialogue is smart and snappy (care of "Juno" writer Diablo Cody) Megan Fox is of course eye candy and it's fun.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

Pretty decent prequel to the X-Men saga. Visually appealing with a solid cast on the positive. The negative - some naff special FX, it's all very bogged down it's genre cliches. It's a shame Gavin Hood couldn't bring that extra dimension of emotion to the fray.

The Gauntlet
The Gauntlet (1977)
½

Fun Eastwood filck from '77. Typical action flick of the era comes up surprisingly crisp on Blu-Ray.

Escape from Alcatraz

Have always loved this film (in fact all prison escape films) After going to Alacatraz a few weeks ago, I had to see how authentic this was, and indeed it was, every scene felt like I was there!
Clint Eastwood is the man!

Bolt
Bolt (2008)

Cute and reasonably entertaining.
Just goes to show once again, noone does it like Pixar!

Bullitt
Bullitt (1968)

Finally got round to seeing this! Nice slow burning action thriller, Steve Mcqueen as cool as ever. A blueprint for many cop films that came after it.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
½

As we come to expect from Robert Rodriguez, this film is very stylish and colourful with same great characters and scenes. Unfortuneately not the sum of it's parts, the narrative is a mess, and you can never keep up with the story. This is my second viewing since it was released in 2003, and my opinion has not changed in 7 years.

Nashville
Nashville (1975)

Classic Altman, he really owns this style of mosaic filmmaking, following a group of interlinked characters and the events of a few days in Nashville Tenessee. Although this is one of his earlier films, I think he did better this film with "Short Cuts" and "Gosford Park". Nashville is a melting pot of ideas and characters, some successful and some not so. Jeff Goldblums character is pointless, and the film was slow and meandering at times (my wife was bored), but all in all an interesting film that explores the political, social amd moral fabric of America in 1975.

The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band)

Master and genius European film-maker Michael Haneke delivers another haunting masterpiece which has justly received an Oscar Nomination as well as winning the Palme D'or. The film is spellbinding, ever more so by being shot in Black and white, impeccably framed and carrying an underlying menace throughout. The film one level is a whodunnit, on another level is an examination of facism in Germany on the eve of WW1, possibly steering us toward a conclusion that the rise of Nazi Power likely stemmed from an oppressive society much like what we experience in this German village. This film will likely infuriate many, but will reward those who need to escape the grip of Hollywood.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

This Oscar nominated drama is harrowing yet hopeful. It pulls no punches and tugs at everyone of your emotions. The towering performances particularly from newcomer Sidibe and Mo'Nique are as brave and real as you could hope to see in a film dealing with this subject matter. My only gripe, (even though I see the logic behind it) are the fantasy sequences that "Precious" uses to escape the despair in her life, I found a little jarring and take you out of the moment, if only briefly. It would be an injustice to see anyone but these two ladies win "Best Actor" nods for their work in this film.

The Hurt Locker
½

Intense film, a must see!!
Upon second viewing I was equally impressed with the tension, the pacing and the pitch perfect performances. Kathryn Bigelow has made the film of her career and will definitely garner some notoriety from the Oscars.

A Prophet (Un prophete)
½

A well deserved Academy award nominee for Best Picture (Foreign). A hard as nails, gritty and intelligent French prison drama. Performances are outstanding throughout, the screenplay is tense, dramatic and the characters are well written and have tremedous depth and complexity. I was spellbound throughout and can't recommend it highly enough!

Daybreakers
Daybreakers (2010)

Another entry to the Vampire canon, and although it has some great ideas and execution, the characters and plot suffer due to it all being a little undercooked. I admire the Ozzie Spierig Bros. for having a good crack at the well worn vamp genre, but a little more effort into the screenplay next time please!

Downloading Nancy

Very dark and depressing film based on true events. Brave performances, cold and stark photography and a sparse but effective soundtrack by Krister Linder.

Zombieland
Zombieland (2009)

Awesome!!!
This is the best Zombie Comedy since "Shaun of the Dead"
Great script, clever use of Dynamic title cards and Woody Harrelson kicking ass. How can you not love a movie that opens with Metallica's "For whom the bell tolls" and has Bill Murray playing himself!

The Limits of Control

I have always been a Jarmusch fan, eagerly awaiting his next great film. So I watched "The Limits of Control" and with disappointment I must say it's a bit of a nothing film. It reminded me of David Lynches "Inland Empire", way to obscure and abstract, almost as if made with the intention of detaching itself totally from it's audience. I am all for a film that is cryptic and open to individual interpretation, but I need some sort of pay-off! And as cinematic as this is (Doyles framing, Boris soundtrack), it does not resonate as it should or leave me wanting more. Isaach De Bankole is uber cool and between his screen presence and the above mentioned positive aspects I will give it an slightly above average review.
Watch Melvilles masterpiece "La Samourai" to see a minimalist film that works!

Where the Wild Things Are

Having not been familiar with Maurice Sendaks '70's book but knowing of it's stature in the hearts of many, I was most eager to see this film as I knew Spike Jonze had been lovingly trying to get it on screen for five years or so. I can agree the reference to this being his most personal film (Spike admits to still not being a real grown-up). He really tried to convey the emotional struggle of a child, and trying to balance and co-exist with all those emotions, albeit in a fantastical environment. He has portrayed Max's feelings through "the Wild Things" each of them being embodied in one of the puppet like creatures that he becomes "king" over.
The film achieves what it sets out to do, with a realism and naturalness that is unique to Spike, and from what I believe captures the "essence" of the book. It's a film that has no real narrative arc and requires more than one viewing, so until the second watch I will rate it 4 stars.

Whatever Works

Although I love Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and admire about half of Woody Allens films, this is another one of his bad ones. Utter dross. Give it a miss :)

This Film is Not Yet Rated
½

Interesting doco on the MPAA and the secrecy behind it's members and the decisions it makes on what should and should not be seen on our screens.
I thought it was quite amusing how the board had to rate this doco, and immediatly slapped with an NC-17 rating. Gold!

My Year Without Sex
½

Another solid Ozzie film, lot's of relatable humour and equally relatable drama. Great performances and script.

Avatar
Avatar (2009)
½

About bloody time, a blockbuster that delivers more than just costly visual thrills and shallow storytelling. I had all but lost faith in James Cameron's holier than thou film-making style, overblown and overrated were the majority of his resume that I was sceptical about this self-hyped groundbreaker. This is a must-see event! Visually arresting, a level of character depth that most blockbusters can never muster, A technical achievement that George Lucas should take notes from, and on top of all that, a bloody good yarn! James Cameron has delivered finally (almost washing the bad taste of Titanic from my memory) SEE IT IN 3D!

The Invention of Lying
½

As much as I love Ricky Gervais, I wish he would stick to what he knows best and stay away from the Hollywood calling. This must have sounded better than it ended up on screen. C'mon, just because people can't lie, doesn't mean they have to say everything that's on their mind (one of many flaws in the concept). Easy to watch tosh.

Invictus
Invictus (2009)

Clint Eastwood is racking up the classics, directing another fine film to head into the Oscar race 2010. Morgan Freeman performs admirably as Nelson mandella circa 1995, as does Matt Damon in his role as SA Rugby Captain. As always Clint proves a deft hand building an intensity throughout the film that keeps you glued. He admirably delivers a film that is worthy of award attention, and is unique enough in it's story to stand above most other sports based films.

Bakjwi (Thirst)

Chan-Wook Park is one of the most brilliant film-makers working today. His films are beautifully crafted in everyway, and this film is no exception. A stand-out in the increasingly crowded Vampire genre, this tragedy is wonderfully performed and realised, with an ending that may be the most impressive closures to a film I have ever seen.

Sherlock Holmes

Very entertaining take on the Sleuthster we all know so well from the myriads of depictions ove the years. Guy Ritchie brings a fresh approach with some quick paced storytelling, and some visual treats he has used well in his other films. All actors were charming, and the script had a large amount of wit and humour. A film that hits all the right marks and is wide open for a sequel. Bring it on!

Brothers
Brothers (2009)
½

A solid no-frills drama with some fine performances, and no real negatives to speak of except... The incredible amount of Iraqi war films coming out of the US at the moment is becoming a massive cliche in itself, unfortuneatly this movie suffers from "seen it all before" syndrome.

Mother (Madeo)
½

Korea has some real talent in Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Thirst) and Bong Joon-Ho (Memories of Murder, the Host). Both directors have released fine films this year, but "Mother" edges out "Thirst" as the better film. A towering performance from Hye-Ja Kim as the protective mother of a half-wit son, who she will protect at any cost. this may be be the best foreign film of the year for me!

Coco Before Chanel

A flat and unisnpiring biopic of the rise of Coco Chanel as she floats her way around French aristocracy, trying to find her lot in life. Audrey Tautou does her best with a lifeless script, but it all ends up quite dull.

Beautiful Kate

Another quality Oz film, hits all the right marks, is very confronting and haunting (as all good family dramas should be) The road to redemption is hard to take, but the journey worthwhile. Amazing performances and cinematography of Oz outback. This one will linger in my memory much like the other great Oz film this year, Samson and Delilah.

Ponyo
Ponyo (2009)
½

Another treat from Miyazaki. He never sets a foot wrong in making me feel the joys and nostalgia of childhood. Beautifully animated and imagined, I couldn't imagine ruining it with the English dub.

An American Werewolf in London

Apparently this was quite puzzling to most when it was released in 1981, being both Horror and Comedy, the likes of which were a rarity in those days. Yet it has gone on to stand the test of time and become a cult classic, and rightly so. Thought it would be time to revisit this on Blu-Ray, and I am glad I did. So much fun, and well crafted.

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon (1980)

This is one of fave films of all time, a massive guilty pleasure. The first film I had as a child. My dad bought it fro $120 brand new from the video shop when I was 5 years old. Corny and camp yet brilliantly entertaining, colourful with killer soundtrack from Queen!

It's Complicated

Ummm.. It's like watching your divorced parents have sex... Yes uncomfortable! There were many times in this whimsical comdey that my wife and I turned to each other and shook our head at how silly it was. Everyone played their roles fine, Steve Martin always plays serious amazingly. But it was all a bit hum-drum. Hollywood is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for film ideas...

Thank You For Smoking
½

Awesome debut from Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) I had to revisit this after watching "Up in the Air" and still adore it. Eckhart is one of the best actors of his generation, and this is a very clever little film. Highly Recommended!

Serenity
Serenity (2005)

Joss Whedon's big screen debut was great to revisit, A fine film version/sequel of his much adored series "Firefly" Everything is first rate and was a joy to watch again.

The Box
The Box (2009)

At first glance, this is a very intriguing '70's set thriller from Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) looking at the moral and ethical ramifications of our decisions. But the film itself becomes quite silly, tedious and isn't nearly half as clever as you would hope. Unlike the brilliant Donnie Darko, I don't imagine needing to watch this over and over to peel back the layers, as it is all pretty shallow stuff.

Van Diemen's Land

Whilst beautifully filmed, this film about Alexander Pearce and his fellow escaped convicts in Tasmania in the 1820's is very undercooked (excuse the pun). As hunger sets in and the "other other" white meat becomes more and more enticing, we are left wandering and meandering through wilderness waiting and waiting for the pace to pick up, alas it never does. I hope the director creates something tastier on his next outing.

The General
The General (1927)
½

What an absolute pleasure to watch. The first Buster Keaton I have ever seen, and won't be the last! Brilliantly paced with a repetetive but catchy soundtrack driving it. I now understand why this is so acclaimed.

A Serious Man

The Coen Bros. forsake their recent mainstream success (No Country for Old Men and Burn after Reading) for an abstract fable about a community of Jews in the late '60's dealing with crisis of faith, family upheaval and neighbourly dramas. Larry Gopnik becomes a sympathetic character for the audience almost like "Job" in the bible, whilst everyone around him is quite unlikeable and treads all over him. Although this ia a little different for the Coens, it still has all their trademark quirks that we love them for. Highly Recommended for the open minded who don't need to be spoon-fed their cinema.

The Road
The Road (2009)

Another film about a Post-Apocalyptic society with few survivors fighting for their lives against the likes of hunger, sickness, madness and cannibals.
Only this one is very emotional, resonant and as it should be.. Bleak. We don't know how society ended, nor do we know the names of "Man" and "Boy", and it's not important, the journey and the connection are the focus. Viggo and Kodi play their roles remarkably and the landscape they wander is well portrayed. Oz director John Hillcoat handles Cormack Mccarthy's acclaimed novel with respect and passion. See it now!

Creation
Creation (2010)

What could have been an extemely interesting Biopic on Charles Darwin and his struggle to finish and publish "The Origin of Species" in a time where theories of evolution vs. creation were uttered only in quiet places. The film is portrays quite emotional performances from Connelly and Bettany, but all in all is quite a dull and dour period piece with no real meat to chew on.

Up in the Air
½

An instant classic! Jason Reitman is THE director to watch (this only being his third film after Thankyou for Smoking and Juno) hitting every single note right. Pitch perfect comedic and dramatic moments, equally clever and emotional. This will be an Academy front-runner, mark my words!

The Lovely Bones
½

I am slightly disappointed in this film, maybe beacuse I am such a Peter Jackson fanboy, and I expect nothing but brilliance from him, maybe I had built it up too much before seeing it. Nontheless, the film is very beautiful mess. Having some incredible visuals and memorable scenes (eg. murderer in the bathtub) And some great performances. There is just too much skimming the surface of what should be the most important stuff, like the relationship of the family after the loss of Susie, or the motivation of the killer. Their are huge inconsistencies and some real moments of silliness (the moving of the safe at the end.. c'mon!). but all in all it is very well done, if not for some minor quibbles that may hopefully be helped by a Directors Cut DVD.