TV: Doctor Who – Series One

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Written by Russell T Davies, Mark Gatiss, Robert Sherman, Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat, starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper

Something about a box that’s bigger on the inside. Weird kind-of pepper-pot monsters that can’t go up stairs. A man who can change his face. Doctor Who was, to all intents and purposes, dead, and it lived on only through select ideas that had permeated themselves into British pop culture. Quite what possessed the BBC to bring it back, we’ll never know, but I think all parties are glad they did, especially considering that doddery old ’60s show now makes up 10% of the BBC’s worldwide profits. Continue reading

Film: End of Watch

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by David Ayer, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña & Anna Kendrick

The ten-word synopsis: Two cops live their lives whilst uncovering a human trafficing ring.

My critical mentality when it comes the most important aspect of a film is clear enough. Nail your central characters and you’re just one step away from nailing the film. End of Watch also adopts this mentality. In fact, the best bits in End of Watch aren’t the shoot-outs and punch-ups shot with such intensity you’ll lose the function to blink, but the scenes in which our two leads simply drive around in their car, chatting. 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: Liberal Arts

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Josh Radnor, starring Josh Radnor & Elizabeth Olsen

The ten-word synopsis: 30-something goes back to University; falls for 19-year old.

There’s a central theme running through Liberal Arts of whether or not something is worth reading just because you like it. This stems from an argument between our two leads over whether Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) was justified in her reading of an unnamed vampire romantic fiction (Read: Twilight) just because she enjoyed it. While Josh Radnors’ character, Jesse, argues otherwise, (Prompting a wonderful line that all but instigates the grandest of debates: Twilight or Chaucer?) Liberal Arts is a fine example of Zibby’s point. If everybody enjoys the film just as much as I did, it’s certainly worth seeing. Continue reading

TV: Doctor Who – Series Seven, Part One

The cast/crew bit: written by Steven Moffat, Chris Chibnal & Toby Whithouse, starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill

The ten-word synopsis: The Doctors’ final few adventures with the moving-on Ponds.

Amy Pond is the longest-serving Doctor Who companion ever. Her 33 stories trumps the 22 of both Jamie McCrimmon and Rose Tyler, with her husband, Rory Williams, actually being her next-closest competition on 27. As such, it was always going to take a brave man to write them out, and a great man to do them justice. Thankfully, Steven Moffat is that man, and delivers a satisfying 5-episode ‘Goodbye’ to the Ponds with some aplomb. Continue reading

Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Stephen Chbosky, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson & Ezra Miller

The ten-word synopsis: Sad, lonely teenager makes friends. Angst by the bucketload ensures.

You can tell a lot about a film by it’s choice of Smiths song on the soundtrack. Shaun of the Dead goes for Panic- a jaunty but heartfelt piece, a bit of a rush, with contrasts rife throughout, with elements that logic dictates shouldn’t slot together instead melding wonderfully. (500) Days of Summer picks There is a Light That Never Goes Out. Passionate, tragic and yet oddly upbeat and charming. The Perks of Being a Wallflower plumps for Asleep- perhaps the musical embodiment of the depressing reputation that Morrissey, Marr & co have garnered over the years. 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: 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