Film: Pitch Perfect

Pitch PerfectThe cast/crew bit: written by Kay Cannon, directed by Jason Moore, starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow & Rebel Wilson

The ten-word synopsis: Girl ends up on all-female singing troupe. Love ensures.

It’d be easy to dismiss formulaic pictures as being easy to make and lazy. However, that’d be to undermine the craftsmanship needed to successfully slot what is, essentially, a pre-prepared film together. Some of the upbeat, school-set bubblegum musicals that have plauged cinema and TV alike over the past five years have been able to do this. High School Musical is such a good example of assembly it’s now used as an instructional manuel for all others. Pitch Perfect chooses to ignore the manuel and put the flat-pack musical together by simply looking at the front of the box. Pitch Perfect also happens to be the best example of the genre I’ve seen to date. Continue reading

Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Benh Zeitlin, starring Quvenzhané Wallis & Dwight Henry

The ten-word synopsis: Half naturalistic drama, half daylight hallucinations of a young girl.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My arm, for so long hovering in and around my chin, stroking the unkempt mess I call a beard, dropped unequivocally to my lap. My lungs took a deep breath in. My eyes widened and, oh, hello, looks like my tear ducts have opened for production. There’s a moment in Beasts of the Southern Wild that conjures this reaction. The most innate, heartfelt reaction that I’ve felt towards any film this year. And for this scene alone, it must be applauded. Continue reading

Film: Punch-Drunk Love

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Adam Sandler & Emily Watson

The ten-word synopsis: Shakey but pleasant man experiences love, threat, disappointment and anger

Jack and Jill is a movie with stupidity so deeply engrained in it’s DNA that even if the Deoxyribonucleic acid could think itself, it wouldn’t work out that it had a double-helix structure. That’s My Boy is a film so painful to watch that the NHS had to begin employing expertsin diagnosing ‘Adam Sandler fever’- A condition that makes you want to bash yourself over the head repeatedly until A). you die or B). the film is over. Most patients claim A is preferable under the circumstances. Basically, if you hate Adam Sandler, you’re more than entitled to do so. However, before you go off on any rants about what a hateful human being he is, (As I for one certainly have done in past) you’re probably best watching Punch-Drunk Love, a movie so good you’ll almost forgive Sandler for his apocalyptically bad career. Continue reading

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

TV: Black Mirror – Series One

The cast/crew bit: written by Charlie Brooker, starring (amongst others) Daniel Kayuula, Toby Kebbell & Rory Kinnear

The ten-word synopsis: Three incredibly dark, distorted technology-based tales from Brooker.

It’d be easy to brand as a sadistic and twisted, but last years’ twisted trilogy from the mind of comedian/journalist Charlie Brooker really was a high point in the past few years of British television. Designed partially to shock, Black Mirror contaminates the mind like nothing else shown last year. Quite how a program about the Prime Minister being forced into having sex with a pig got commissioned is beyond me, (Or at least would be if Brooker weren’t involved) but I for one am glad it was. Continue reading