LISTED Film Previews – October ’11

Another month, and another lot of Film Previews for Listed Magazine. We’ve got a packed month this time round, with Halloween around the corner and the horror films coming out of the woodwork, so get on top of the film viewings in order to keep up! Also remember that you can listen to reviews of all of these films on May Contain Spoilers by listening in at 9pm every Thursday on The Bay Radio, or by listening to our podcasts by searching “May Contain Spoilers” on either Facebook or Jellycast. It’s a better investment than a chocolate teapot! That being said, have a read of these and leave some opinions:

REAL STEEL (12A) (Dir. Shawn Levy)

While it could have the unofficial title of “Rock-‘Em Sock-‘Em Robots: The Movie”, Real Steel looks like it might have something a bit more than the obvious to offer. Hugh Jackman is Charlie Kenton, a one-time famous boxing champ who is now a struggling promoter in a world where humans no longer box, but instead use 2000 pound robots. After Charlie discovers he has an 11 year old son who wants to know his father, they find a common goal training an unlikely champion in an old discarded droid. Sort of mid-way between Transformers and Rocky, it’s easy to see that Real Steel might have the typical father-and-son personal growth storyline, but throw giant boxing robots into the mix and you might just have something original that everyone can enjoy. Plus this looks like it could be the movie Transformers 3 should really have been! Released October 14th.

CONTAGION (12A) (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Doing his usual act of releasing two of his own films in one year – one being a big budget feature with big names and one smaller, lesser known one – Contagion is the bigger of the years releases from Mr. Soderbergh. Contagion focuses on an outbreak of an airborne virus that kills anyone infected within days. Panic and fear spread as quickly as the virus epidemic does, and a team from the Centre for Disease Control (including Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne) race to find a cure for the lethal virus. But the question is, are they able to find a cure before society tears itself apart? It may be more of a psychological thriller than an actual horror, but Contagion could be a surprise Halloween hit this year, so check it out if you want something different. Released October 21st.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN (PG) (Dir. Steven Spielberg)

Bringing alive the adventures of the original comic books and boasting a big-time writing team of Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish with a big name cast to boot, The Adventures of Tintin will see the intrepid reporter and his dog Snowy in a Robert Zemeckis-style motion capture 3D epic. When Tintin (Jamie Bell) discovers a map to a sunken treasure ship of Captain Haddock’s (Andy Serkis) ancestor, the two set out to find it before the nefarious Red Rackham (Daniel Craig) can get to it first. Definitely for those who aren’t into the Halloween-season films, Tintin could be the first of many treasure-hunting adventures for the boy reporter, so watch out for this one. Released October 26th.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (15) (Dir. Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman)

Filling a very noticeable Saw-shaped hole in Halloween film releases this year, Paranormal Activity 3 returns with its trademark low-budget style with major chills. Although the plot is still mostly the stuff of rumour, it looks like the third film will be a direct sequel rather than the planned prequel, but will use “historical videos” from before the first one as part of the story. Whether you’re familiar with the series or not, with little in the way of horror film competition this year you can expect Paranormal Activity 3 to be the film fans will flock to for their frights – watch if you dare! Released October 21st.

As published in Listed Magazine and on http://www.listedmagazine.com – Reviews can be found on the May Contain Spoilers podcast.

The Adjustment Bureau (Contains Spoilers)

Proving that sci-fi doesn’t always need to have huge budget effects, The Adjustment Bureau essentially does for Choice and Fate what Inception did for Dreams. This is really the kind of film that’s more likely to make you paranoid than fight a galactic empire!

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story and written/directed by George Nolfi, The Adjustment Bureau follows David Norris (Matt Damon), a congressman in New York who meets the charming, beautiful and impulsive Elise (Emily Blunt) who, from a chance meeting, helps him make the speech of his career and they instantly fall in love. Except, it wasn’t by “chance”, it was planned through action and consequence, and when they accidentally meet the next day by mistake it sets off a ripple effect which has to be corrected by the people that keep track and create these events. These people are the men from The Adjustment Bureau – the people who keep lives going “according to plan”. They tell David that he can never see Elise again as it is not part of his plan, and he can’t speak of them to anyone less he get his memory wiped out. But after another chance meeting with Elise, he starts to defy The Bureau and risk everything he has for the girl he loves. Eventually, with the help of his “case worker” from The Bureau (Anthony Mackie), he finds out that his “chance” meetings with Elise isn’t by chance at all, but instead is ripples of past plans correcting themselves. David then plans to beat The Bureau at their own game and take it to the top to create his own destiny with Elise.

The ad campaign for The Adjustment Bureau says that it’s “Bourne meets Inception”.  I’ve got to say, I don’t think this is really accurate. There are certain elements to The Adjustment Bureau which are similar to Inception (like dealing with peoples minds and the way people perceive the world they live in), and it’s similar to The Bourne Identity in the way Matt Damon is in it. But other than that, The Adjustment Bureau has an originality of its own.

The Adjustment Bureau comes across more like a romance story with sci-fi elements in it than a full on science fiction film. The main focus of the story is the developing romance between David and Elise, but this is a trigger for the sci-fi elements to come into play around that, which I quite liked. I also liked how The Adjustment Bureau is set in a real-world setting, and there’s little need for CGI during the action scenes, so it’s very much a more thought-provoking kind of science fiction.

The big mystery of the film is the men from The Bureau – It’s never explained exactly who or what the men are, except they’ve existed for centuries, controlling the destiny of mankind, stepping in when the world needed correcting, and have books that can map people’s lives according to their choices and consequences.  Something I liked was that not everything about The Bureau is revealed in one go. Instead it’s an on-going reveal – for instance, the relevance of their hats is only revealed towards the end when David has to wear one in order to slip through doors to different destinations, and how for some reason it’s harder for them to predict actions over water.

The Adjustment Bureau also has some fantastic acting. I thought Matt Damon was very good as usual, and Blunt is instantly likeable as her ballerina character. But what made The Adjustment Bureau for me was Terence Stamp as Thompson, the higher power at The Bureau who steps in to assume control of the case. He was completely fantastic and made the best performance of the film.

I found The Adjustment Bureau to be the kind of film that creates an interesting storyline which is both thought provoking and paranoia inducing at the same time without the need for CGI heavy scenes. So, The Adjustment Bureau gets 9 out of 10 for ingenuity, and its ability to make you strongly consider exactly why you missed that bus this morning…

LISTED Film Previews – March 2011

Yes sir, it’s those lovely Film Previews straight from the pages of Listed Magazine once again! We’re getting closer to a spring/summer of some BIG films this year, and so far it’s looking like there won’t be as many re-makes this year and instead just some good quality cinema action! In the meantime though, here’s March’s edition. Enjoy!

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (12A) (Dir. George Nolfi)

Based loosely around a short story by Phillip K. Dick, co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum George Nolfi brings to life this story of an ambitious politician David Norris (Matt Damon) who meets and pursues a ballet dancer (Emily Blunt) unlike any other woman he has known. As he realises he is falling for her, outside forces start to conspire against the pair, and they soon find themselves on the run from the men from The Adjustment Bureau – agents of Fate itself. Now, Norris must go against overwhelming odds to do whatever he can to evade these agents and take his fate into his own hands so that no one else can control it but him. With a slick mixture of Bourne-style action and some sci-fi mystery, The Adjustment Bureau looks as though it will keep its audience on the edge of their seat from two fronts – so if this sounds like your thing, make sure you catch it! Released March 4th.

WORLD INVASION: BATTLE LOS ANGELES (12A) (Dir. Jonathan Liebesman)

Lifted a bit from the District 9/Independence Day school of filmmaking, Battle: Los Angeles sees Aaron Eckhart as part of a Marine platoon who unexpectedly gets drafted in to fight an alien invasion in Los Angeles. The trailer for this shows off some pretty large-scale CGI, but at the end of the day it seems like there might not be all that much in the way of originality. Check it out if you’re a sci-fi buff, but save it if you’re waiting for other things to come up. Released March 11th.

INSIDE JOB (12A) (Dir. Charles Ferguson)

The tagline for this financial documentary about the USA’s economy situation reads “The global economic crisis of 2008 cost tens of millions of people their savings, their jobs and their homes. This is how it happened.” Inside Job is the documentary of the year that could potentially expose the most information about the economic crisis to people that might otherwise not know the finer details. Exposing corruption, rogue companies, and interviews with key financial insiders and politicians and narrated by Matt Damon, Inside Job will have you hating the government even more than you already did! Released March 4th.

YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER (15) (Dir. Woody Allen)

The latest offering of alternative comedy-romance films from Woody Allen follows the lives of two couples who separate and start heading towards trouble: Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones) and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and her husband Roy (Josh Brolin). Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and chases after the young, free-spirited call girl Charmaine whilst Helena starts to live a little too closely to the advice of her strange fortune teller. At the same time, Sally feels unhappy with her marriage and develops a crush on her boss (Antonio Banderas) at the art gallery while Roy becomes infatuated with a woman who catches his eye through a window as he eagerly awaits the response to his first novel manuscript. As you can guess, you can pretty much expect something very unconventional in the comedy-romance department if it’s coming from Woody Allen, and with a cast this strong you can also expect some very well played parts in this anti rom-com. Released March 18th.

As published in Listed Magazine and on http://www.listedmagazine.com

It’s that time of year again…

Yes, that most anticipated of Awards Ceremonies, The Oscars, sees all kinds of celebrities turning out in their most amazing looking threads and practising their most gracious of losing faces for this one time of year.

Of course, this year was no different, and England in particular has a lot riding on this, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, with The King’s Speech nominated in as many categories as it can possibly manage. From the Red Carpet, everyone seemed rightly excited for the close calls in this year’s nominees. Everyone has their favourites, but only one can win. I know where my money is!

James Franco and Anne Hathaway did a nice job of hosting together, but of course when you put two attractive people together like that you’re hoping to get an entertaining back and forth (especially when half-way through they come back out dressed as each other). Plus, it gives all the geeks in the audience a chance at imagining how Anne Hathaway will look when she plays Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises next year!

Best Art Direction surprisingly didn’t go to Inception but to Alice in Wonderland, which I suppose must be purely for all its CGI and imaginative creations.

Best Supporting Actress went to Melissa Leo for her performance in The Fighter, but it did mean that both Helena Bonham Carter and Hayley Steinfeld missed out (which gave Helena a reason for looking moody and gothy), which confused me as I was sure they put Hayley Steinfeld into this category so she might win since she was on the screen for 90% of the time, which would surely mean the Lead Actress in True Grit was Matt Damon…

Best Animated Feature obviously went to Toy Story 3, but being one of three films nominated it was almost to be expected. Best Adapted Screenplay must have been a very close call because 127 Hours, The Social Network and True Grit were all very well written, but the award went to The Social Network as I hoped. Best Original Screenplay brought the first Oscar to The King’s Speech, and David Seidler made a great acceptance speech for it. I couldn’t have called In a Better World for Best Foreign Language film as I think most people expected it to go to Biutiful, but there you go.

Another tough call came for Best Supporting Actor, but Christian Bale took the award away, which I’m guessing is due to the amount of weight he lost purely to perform his role in The Fighter. Inside Job took Best Documentary, but that’s probably because it exposed massive financial fraud to a nation that got hit by it!

Inception took away a total of 4 awards, including Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects and surprisingly Cinematography, which I expected to go to True Grit for its scenery and settings. Best Original Score, to my huge excitement, went to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which meant I got to see the man that fronted Nine Inch Nails accepting an Oscar whilst simultaneously feeling obviously awkward about it!

Best Director, without any surprise, went to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, even though I was rooting for David Fincher for The Social Network, but at least he made a good acceptance speech so you can’t fault him for that. Best Actress went to Natalie Portman, and again that is likely due to the amount of dance training she went through for her role in Black Swan.

No prizes for guessing that Best Actor went to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech, as well as winning Best Feature Film. That means 4 Oscars for The King’s Speech and good night for English Films!

So, until next year, we can all go away and rent all the films from tonight, and remember just why they won the awards they did. Or, alternatively, bitch continuously about how our favourites really should have won that one award that they were nominated for instead of that other which wasn’t nearly as good…

LISTED Film Previews – January/February ’10

Another month, and another set of Film Previews for you guys out there! Hopefully these ones will be pretty popular ones to go and see, especially since its around that time that all the Oscar Nominees are getting released. Anyway, here are some easy ways to beat boredom in the coming couple of months:

NINJA ASSASSIN (15) (Dir. James McTeigue)

Already causing quite the storm in America (mostly due to the cult Japanese superstar Rain playing the main role of super-assassin Raizo), this film is not only directed by the same guy as V For Vendetta , but has also been partly written by comic book writer/legend J. Michael Straczynski! A young ninja, born and raised to be the most deadly weapon alive, turns his back on the orphanage and clan that trained him, sparking off confrontations with fellow ninjas and the leaders of the clan. Ninja Assassin is already gathering a crowd due to its huge amount of stunts and gore, so if you’re expecting a deep, emotionally driven storyline this might not be the film for you. However, if you want plenty of kick-assery, then this could be your ultimate fantasy come true! Released 8th January.

THE ROAD (15) (Dir. John Hillcoat)

Starring a rather hairy-looking Viggo Mortensen, this film see’s his nameless character and his son walking for months and trying to survive by any means possible in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by an unexplained cataclysm, in search of any kind of civilisation. Whilst this may sound like a very dull basis for a film now (thanks, in part, to 2012…), this Cormac McCarthy adaptation is setting out to be as dark as possible, and explore the depths that the human race will go to in order to survive. Also, there could possibly be an Oscar-Nomination in Viggo’s performance… Released 8th January.

THE LOVELY BONES (12A) (Dir. Peter Jackson)

Winning combination, here – award-winning director Peter Jackson doing an adaptation of one of the most popular books of recent years (that ISN’T Twilight, that is!), and ending up with a film that (from the trailer) looks to be both emotionally moving and visually stunning as well. The story itself (for those that don’t know) centres around a young girl, Susie Salmon, who has been murdered and watches over both her family and her murderer from Heaven, whilst choosing between her wanting vengeance or wanting her family to move on and heal themselves. Between the visuals, direction and script, this could easily clean up at the Oscars, so make sure you get to see it. And bring the tissues… Released 29th January.

INVICTUS (12A) (Dir. Clint Eastwood)

This is Clint Eastwood’s 5th film in as many years, thus making many other directors look terribly unproductive in comparison! After the success of Gran Torino last year, Invictus is Clint Eastwood taking a look at life for Nelson Mandella (Morgan Freeman) after the fall of apartheid in South Africa during his first term as president, when he campaigned for South Africa to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in an attempt to unite his countrymen. Also starring Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, Invictus looks like it might well be another contender for some Oscar wins, so it will be tight between those that get nominated! Released 5th February.

As Publish in Listed Issue 24 and on www.listedmagazine.com

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