Film: Paranorman

The cast/crew bit: directed & written by Chris Butler, starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi & Anna Kendrick

The ten-word synopsis: Kid who sees dead people called upon to stop zombies.

Brave may not be a misfire on Pixars’ behalf, but it’s far from their best work. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a fine animated comedy, but nowhere near as funny as Aardmans’ two previous features. And the less said about any of the nonsense Dreamworks have put out this year, the better. Yet, suddenly, it feels like none of this matters, as Laika, makers of 2009s’ creepy kids film Coraline, have outdone not just themselves but anybody involved in an animated feature for the past three years. Paranorman is not just the best animated film of the year, it’s the best since Up redefined 3D animation genre. It’s reminiscent of Pixar at their best, with the added edge that being a horror film lends it. Simply put, Paranorman is a really, really good film. Continue reading

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Film: Looper

The cast/crew bit: written/directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis & Emily Blunt

The ten-word synopsis: 2044: a futuristic assassin has to assassinate his future self.

We are living in a post-Inception world. Ever since Christopher Nolan not just got the backing to make possibly the most ambitious film of the last ten years, but also made it a success, studios have been clamouring to find ‘the next Inception’. Last year we saw the likes of The Adjustment Bureau and we’ve only just been hit by Total Recall, which was a pretty desperate attempt to cash in on the sudden interest in smart action movies. Neither of these matched either the box-office or critical success of the Nolan film, with the dream-bending masterwork looking further and further out of reach. Not so much anymore. Rian Johnsons’ Looper is the first of the new breed of smart sci-fi thrillers to not only match Inception blow-for-blow, but to also surpass it with a few sneaky hits of its own. Continue reading

Film: Anna Karenina

The cast/crew bit: directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law & Aaron Johnson

The ten-word synopsis: Keira Knightley adaptation of the classic Russian romantic epic novel.

The novel Anna Karenina, written by Mr. War and Peace Leo Tolstoy, clocks in at little under under 1000 pages. For years, it has been the bane of many an English Literature students life, taunting them with its complex themes, ever-twisting plot and characters who avoid becoming caricatures. As such, it won’t come as a surprise for me to inform you all that this particular adaptation of Anna Karenina is, sitting at around 2 hours and twenty minutes, both too long and too compressed at the same time.
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TV Movie: Hawking

The cast/crew bit: written by Peter Moffatt, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Brandon and Lisa Dillon

The ten-word synopsis: Dramatisation of Professor Stephen Hawkings’ early days, aged just 21.

Stephen William Hawking is one of the most remarkable people alive. Universally regarded as one of the worlds’ great thinkers and bound to go down in history alongside the likes of Einstein and Newton, Hawking has done it all whilst suffering from motor neurone disease. First diagnosed when he was 21 and just headed for Cambridge, it’s here that this film lays its scene. Benedict Cumberbatch, of Sherlock fame, is Stephen Hawking, and it all plays out from there. Continue reading

Film: Premium Rush

The cast/crew bit: directed by David Koepp, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon and Dania Ramerez

The ten-word synopsis: Bike messenger must deliver a valuable package whilst being chased

For my money, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the best actor in America right now. He’s versatile, he’s likeable and he’s engaging. He seems to live and breath as each character, adding an believability that very few actors of his stature can craft without seeping into essentially ‘being Joseph Gordon-Levitt’. While he successfully negotiates that trap in Premium Rush, it would have been far too much for him to ask to turn New York bike messenger Wiley into the kind of believable, human character we’ve seen from Gordon-Levitt in the past. Continue reading

Game: Elite Beat Agents

The system/publisher/developer bit: Nintendo DS, published by Nintendo, developed by iNiS

The ten-word synopsis: Rhythmically tap the screen to help those in need.

Whenever asked for compile my favourite films, TV shows, books, plays, whatever, my first instinct is always to impress. To list titles that make me come across as somewhat highbrow, like a proper critic type or something. However, it never takes long before the likes of Psycho and Hamlet give way to a mesmeric platoon of silliness. Scott Pilgrim, Danger Mouse, The Gruffallo… And, with the onset of gaming as a ‘serious’ new medium, Elite Beat Agents can take its’ rightful place amongst that most esteemed company. Continue reading

Film: Harvey

The cast/crew bit: directed by Henry Koster, starring Jimmy Stewart & Josephine Hull

The ten-word synopsis: Man befriends 6’3.5″ giant rabbit only he can see.

Vertigo may have topped the AFIs list and It’s a Wonderful Life might be the most charming film ever made, but for my money, James Stewart never put in a better performance than  that of Elwood P Dowd in Harvey. The man affectionately known as ‘Jimmy’ is the kind of actor who is just immensely likeable, perhaps more so than anyone before or after him, and Harvey is, as an actor, his coup de grace.
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Game: New Super Mario Bros 2

The system/publisher/developer bit: Nintendo 3DS, developed & published by Nintendo

The ten-word synopsis: More 2D Mario platforming action, now with lots more coins.

It’s testament to just what a miraculous job Shigeru Miyamoto did in 1985 that Nintendo can release essentially the same game these days and it’s still one of the best titles put out all year. While there continues to be a Mario revolution with games such as Super Mario Galaxy, it’s the gentle evolution of the New Super titles that seems almost more remarkable than Miyamoto simply redefining the genre again, as the gaming dreamworker seems to do at least once every 5 or 6 years. Continue reading

Film: A Few Best Men

The cast/crew bit: directed by Stephen Elliott, starring Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall and Kevin Bishop

The ten-word synopsis: Brit decides to marry holiday lover; Mates are wedding imbeciles.

It’s a film probably best known for providing the “What is Ramsey doing in my room?” line for Cineworlds’ ‘Summer of movies’ trailer they show at every single screening for about 6 months. At a push, you might’ve seen a trailer and recognised the bloke from the old BT adverts. Let’s leave it that way, as British-Australian wedding comedy A Few Best Men has but a few good lines and no best bits. Continue reading