Category Archives: Films

Film: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)

Not sure what I can say about this film, other than I was too quick to judge it. I’ve never quite got the measure of director Wes Anderson. I have fond memories of “The Royal Tenenbaums”, but I think then it may have been the galaxy of famous actors in it, and now it might be nostalgia playing its part. I might give it another go soon.

the grand budapest hotel“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” I remember less fondly, though (and I forget he directed this), “Fantastic Mr Fox” is superb and I recommend you watch it right away. But needless to say, Wes has a distinctive style, and can attract big-named actors like flypaper.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”, set in the fictitious and mountainous nation of Zubrowka, it recounts a period in the life of the titular hotel’s renowned concierge, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), as told by his apprentice Zero (Tony Revolori, who curiously doesn’t have a Wikipedia page yet). After a wealthy customer (a dessicated Tilda Swinton) dies and bequeathes something of great value to her beloved Gustave, her outraged family take every chance to settle the matters of the deceased’s estate in their favour.

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Film: “300: Rise of an Empire” (2014)

I hadn’t been too bothered to go and see the new “300” film, but I’m pleased I did. I only watched the original “300” some time after the event, and found it fairly uninteresting, though its impact in the creation of similar blokey gorefest films and TV series hasn’t gone unnoticed.

300_Rise_of_an_EmpireUnusually, “300: Rise of an empire” serves as both a prequel, sequel and accompanying story to “300”, the events of the latter playing out off-screen during the film. It gives much more depth to the film, a bigger picture than “300” painted. It follows the career of (decidedly Aussie) Greek general and master tactician Thermistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), starting from the moment he became a legend, killing the king of the oncoming Persian army (father of God-King Xerxes).

On the flip-side we get to see the making of Xerxes (sexy Rodrigo Santoro), from grieving son to re-made, supernatural golden God. This also introduces the main antagonist to Thermistocles, the devastating beauty and commander of the Navy, Artimicia (Eva Green). We are narrated through the back story by the dependably brilliant Lena Headey, reprising her role as Queen Gorgo of the Spartans in role that it too small, but she owns every minute of screentime. Continue reading

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Single: Lana del Rey – “Once upon a dream” (2014)

What? Something not about Eurovision in some capacity? Well I’ve used the E-word but that’s it. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to write about anything else, it can’t have been that long though.

lana del rey once upon a dreamAnyway, films! Films are still a thing, and there’s a good one on the way, namely Disney’s “Maleficent”. Perhaps one of the most anticipated Disney films in a long while, it tells the story of the evil witch notorious for cursing Sleeping Beauty to fall into a coma after pricking her finger on a spinning wheel.

Don’t ask me to go deeper than that, I’ve only got sketchy memories of the original animated tale. But “Maleficent” looks at how she became that fearsome sorceress. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation to it. I blame society! Well between this witch origin story and “Frozen” (basically Wicked’s songbook), I wonder if this isn’t the worst possible time to finally release a “Wicked” movie, but apparently that’s on the way now.

maleficentThe trailer looks amazing anyway, Angelina Jolie is going to turn this into real Disney Noir. To accompany it, a darker re-work of the original Disney feature’s big fairytale song was created with the go-to girl for old-fashioned noir, Lana del Rey. As soon as it starts you know it’s an inspired choice – it’s still got that dreamy lullaby quality, but with that sinister undercurrent. Beautifully arranged, it does what the film hopes to do – reclaim a beloved work and show another, less obviously beautiful side to it without ruining the original.

I’m excited for the film, I’m not sure how it will turn out but it’s certainly one of the more intriguing upcoming films of 2014.


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Film: “The Book Thief” (2014)

Do you ever get films where you’re not really sure you think of it? I mean on the face of it “The Book Thief” is a straightforward story about a young girl Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), fostered into a German family just before the outbreak of World War II. As she gets accustomed to her new family of Hans & Rosa (Geoffrey Rush & Emily Watson), she learns to read and adapt to her new life.

the book thiefBut when the family take in Max (Ben Schnetzer), the son of Hans’s dead WWI friend, Liesel world starts to open up as she rehabilitates this strange new man. There’s the threat of the Third Reich discovering Max, as well as the ongoing war. You can sort of imagine the story already, and the trailer leads you through most of it.

A bunch of stuff happens – it’s not essentially going anywhere in particular, but it’s still immersive, and showed me a side to the war that I knew a bit about, but have rarely seen in films, i.e. Germany during the war. Not as the baddies as such, just as a nation at war much like any other would be, with the occasional Nazi firebrand reminding us of the world they are living in. Swastikas aplenty and fairly blunt allusions to what Third Reich are doing with certain demographics. Continue reading

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Film: “Cuban Fury” (2014)

This film was a compromise. I say compromise, my sisters wanted to see something with me, and wanted to see this. I didn’t have any better ideas, so that was that. I realised as the lights went down that the last time we had all gone to see a film together was “Titanic”. I can’t imagine this film will have quite the lasting impression of “Titanic”, but that’s probably OK because it wasn’t really trying.

cuban fury posterWith Simon Pegg off doing Star Trek, sidekick Nick Frost seems to just be doing films that would have otherwise had Simon Pegg in them. This isn’t a good thing for me, I never really warmed to Nick in the way that practically everyone else seems to have. In “Cuban Fury” he at least broke his usual mould of crude, annoying best friend, but what was left?

Having been bullied (seemingly just on one evening), he gave up his talent of salsa dancing and became a spineless victim. Whoever wrote this film evidently wasn’t writing from experience, this world was populated by easily distinguishable good & bad guys. Chris O’Dowd was wasted as the office bastard ceaselessly knocking our brave hero Bruce(!) down in his quest to have sex with their sexy new boss. Continue reading

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