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

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Film: So Undercover

So UndercoverThe cast/crew bit: directed by Tom Vaughan, written by Stephen Pearl & Allan Loeb, starring Miley Cyrus

The ten-word synopsis: PI is sent undercover in a high school. Not sure why.

Well, Anne Hathaway did it. There’s still hope lingering somewhere that Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus might, somehow, pull off a fitting Cinderella-like transformation into a good actress. If we’re going on the basis of Hannah Montana’s latest film, though, that hope is slipping away with every passing second. Continue reading

Film: Fun Size

The cast/crew bit: directed by Josh Schwartz, written by Max Werner, starring Victoria Justice, Jane Levin & Thomas Mann

The ten-word synopsis: Babysitting sister loses her younger brother on Halloween. You guess.

I strolled in to see Fun Size on a Monday afternoon, and was greeted with an auditorium positively heaving with a grand total of one other person. So, the two of us sat down and looked on as the films’ certificate came up. It’s a 12A. I shall come to this later. Then two blokes, who both appeared to be quite comfortable going to the cinema on their own and therefor sat within a certain category in society, were subjected to the hoppy, middlingly-energetic music video from Call Me Maybe singer Carly Rae Jepsons’ new single. Personally, I’m an advocate of catchy pop nonsense, but as the other man, who was probably about 40, turned to look at me, hoping to catch a glance of bafflement that was almost equal to that of his own outward demeanour, I experienced the least awkward moment of the 90-odd minutes in which I was inside that screening. Continue reading

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

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 thanĀ  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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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

Film: The Watch

Watch

The cast/crew bit: directed by Akiva Schaffer, starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn and Richard Ayoade

The ten-word synopsis: Some A-listers & Moss off the IT Crowd fight aliens.

Simply sticking three of the biggest names in Hollywood comedy together should be a recipe for success. Ben Stiller has a huge pedigree of comedic talent, Jonah Hills’ got a knack for crude delivery and Vince Vaughn’s been in enough funny films to mask the fact that he’s actually just a bit annoying. So why oh why, should The Watch, which slings the three together against the backdrop of an alien invasion, need a relatively obscure, young British comedian to make the film watchable? Continue reading

Film: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

The cast/crew bit: directed by David Bowers, starring Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn and Robert Capron

The 10-word synopsis: Boy finds himself in constantly awkward situations over summer holidays.

HEY! YOU! Do you like WINCING? How do you feel about watching behind your hand as somebody does something so stupid you can’t help but CRINGE? Do you revel in seeing people do exactly the wrong thing, time after time, causing you to CREASE YOURSELF? Well if all this sounds like your idea of fun, you’ll love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies! Continue reading

TV: Nathan Barley – Series One

The cast/crew bit: written by Charlie Brooker & Chris Morris, starring Nicholas Burns, Julian Barrett and Claire Keelan

The 10-word synopsis: Sombre journalist wages his own private war against ‘The Idiots’.

There’s a part of my brain that thinks that Nathan Barley may be the best sitcom ever made. It’s a buoyant, bizarre concoction of wandering ideas and stray characters. Every second of Nathan Barley feels out of place, like the show isn’t suppose to fit together. Each actor seems to give a performance that feels like it’s in a different program to the next. There’s a lack of consistency that seems to characterise the series. Almost everything good about Nathan Barley can equally be seen as a criticism and, for this feat alone, you can’t help but praise the team behind it. Continue reading

Film: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

The cast/crew bit: directed by Steve Martino, starring Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Legizaumo

The ten-word synopsis: It’s an Ice Age film. No more words are needed.

The word ‘film’ up there in the title is perhaps pushing it a bit. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is less of a ‘film’ and more of an economic machine. Ice Age films make lots of money. The first one took 6 times what it cost to make. The second made a similar figure. From a business point of view, Ice Age 4 makes sense. Continue reading