Posted by: greercn | June 24, 2015

Mr. Holmes

My Very Intelligent Friend really likes this movie. He believes “Mr. Holmes” is a worthy musing on old age and a welcome addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories.

The period detail, the look of the house and gardens and the bee plot all appeal to him.

I am unconvinced.

Heresy first: I don’t like Ian McKellen. He’s the man who ruined Gandalf and Magneto for me.

You probably believe he excretes rainbows. With sound and progressive views, Sir Ian has a great big presence. I just don’t get his (almost universal) appeal. Sorry.

Perhaps I have been comprehensively Cumberbatched.

Laura Linney plays the housekeeper to the Great Old Man and young rising star Milo Parker plays her precocious son, Roger. There is musing on old cases and the music, cinematography and costumes are all superb.

I was annoyed that Linney’s accent veered all over the place and I resented being told I was in Sussex when I was in Kent. When I go all fussbudget about details that annoy me, I’m not very engaged with the movie, am I?

However, my Very Intelligent Friend points out that one place I was certain was Kent is actually Sussex. I looked it up – he’s right – but I am sticking with feeling slightly annoyed. I am looking for reasons I was annoyed by “Mr. Holmes”.

The trains are terrific. The visit to Japan is very moving. The sad case from the past is present and correct.

It’s not “Mr. Holmes”. It’s me. Everyone else at the Stratford East Picturehouse adored it. You will love it.

Perhaps I ought to order one of those little medical bracelets that says “allergic to Sir Ian McKellen”? I may consider therapy.

Posted by: greercn | June 18, 2015

Sci-Fi-London Festival 2015

A Very Happy Birthday to the marvellous Louis Savy, who is the brains and the heart behind this film festival.

Louis and his team show lots of great movies you won’t see anywhere else.

The fun began with a party at the British Film Institute (BFI) at the South Bank celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sci-Fi-London and the opening night. Reader, I very nearly did lose my heart to a Starship Trooper. The Wookies were adorable although I’m not sure how Indiana Jones got in. Still, he looked very handsome.

Most of us were in civvies which meant black tops of varying glamour and black jeans to match. We felt a little nondescript next to those who were in costume.

Tons of blue and yellow balloons festooned the room. Balloons always make me feel about eight-years-old and at a proper party, with cake and ice cream.

Apart from the BFI, showings were at the Ritzy Picturehouse and at my beloved Stratford East Picturehouse. More than 40 films were shown, not including short films and various competitions. The Sci-Fido show featured dressed-up dogs.

“Haphead” is a Canadian film, directed by Tate Young. It’s about a young woman who works in a haptics factory. Haptics means communication via touch. Crudely, haptics here are sensors you attach to your body that let you physically experience being in a game.

It’s all to be continued in a web series, which you can find at http://www.haphead.com

Elysia White as Maxine has a quality of the very young Kristen Stewart about her. It’s an intriguing look at the future through the eyes of regular workers. Even though bits of it were choppy and disjointed in the feature film, I’ll still check out the web series.

“Closer To God” terrified me. It’s an intelligent look at human cloning but it feels like a horror film. Oh, for a shoulder to lean on as I jumped up and hid my eyes repeatedly.

The film I am sorry I missed and will look out for is “Life Off Grid”. I’m fascinated by self-sufficiency and this shows real people living outside of normal society.

Well done, Louis and team. May the next 20 years be terrific.

Posted by: greercn | June 17, 2015

Jurassic World

People exist who are not thrilled by dinosaurs. Weird, but true.

The old Jurassic Park movies pale into insignificance when compared to the big-budget all-action blockbuster that is “Jurassic World”.

Endless talent and resources have gone into this. Honestly, it scared me.

My Very Intelligent Friend is as into dinosaurs as I am but he didn’t jump as often as I did. But then, he is genetically much more British than I am.

Essentially, I am a small child masquerading as an adult. And I loved every chase, dinosaur, bad guy and hero.

The two boys at the heart of this story (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are not annoying and will even make you say “aw” a few times.

Chris Pratt and Bruce Dallas Howard are just fine in the big adult roles and Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, BD Wong and Vincent D’Onofrio all have super moments.

Director Colin Trevorrow has inhaled deeply at the well of executive producer Steven Spielberg and you move briskly from big action scene to another big action scene.

It’s 130 minutes long with hardly any filler, after the first slow 20 minutes.

There is fun homage to the old Jurassic Park stories, too.

But enough of the people. This is all about the huge range of dinosaurs, interspersed by little homilies on human progress. Talking goes away mercifully quickly and you are staring in awe at magnificent creatures through most of this film.

Oh, just go see it. Everybody else will.

Posted by: greercn | June 17, 2015

London Road

Based on a 2011 stage show, “London Road” will engage your emotions but will still feel theatrical and contrived. That doesn’t matter if you love the stage more than the screen.

Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork used the words of London Road residents who were caught up as bystanders during the 2006 Ipswich Ripper murders. With such uncomfortable source material, deft direction by Rufus Norris and a really good ensemble, it takes risks.

My friend Sheila goes to the theatre much more often than I do and she really enjoyed the originality and musical numbers. I am used to the faster pace of film so my attention wandered a few times, especially during the inevitable talky bits.

As ordinary people get caught up in extraordinary attention from the media, the warmest moments, for me, came from the testimony of the young prostitutes who were the targets of the crimes.

The stars here are Tom Hardy, Anita Dobson, Kate Fleetwood and Olivia Colman but most of the team are the actors who originated these parts, at London’s National Theatre.

Theatre, ballet and opera events that are beamed into cinemas are great for attracting more people to high culture. And it’s wonderful that Picturehouse has sponsored making this movie and I am glad it was shown at Stratford East Picturehouse.

Watching many movies has resulted in my having the attention span of a gnat. I fear I now desire endless vicarious thrills, when I watch a screen.

Shame on me. You should see this film. It’s culture with a capital “C”.

Posted by: greercn | June 11, 2015

Spy

Melissa McCarthy is equally adept at carrying sight gags and hilarious lines in Paul Feig’s new spy comedy.

When a nuclear bomb goes missing, our back office CIA heroine must become a field agent. Egged on by colleague Miranda Hart and boss Allison Janney, there is so much female energy in “Spy”, you might wish to bring tampons.

Rose Byrne and Morena Baccarin rachet up the girl power energy.

For the boys, Jason Statham – just hilarious – and Jude Law – endearingly clueless – have great moments. Bobby Cannavale and the ever-wonderful Peter Serafinowicz are adorable, creepy and hilarious.

I went with my Very Intelligent Friend and we both fell about laughing. Reader, I guffawed. “Spy” is made of funny lines and visuals and feels like a reaching back to older and defter comedy movies, from a long time ago.

The music, settings and costumes all work perfectly.

Melissa should now get loads of leading parts as she confirms her star appeal. Surprisingly, Jason has a great sense of humour and should be given more comedy roles.

You’ll have fun. It’s a good movie. Everyone at Stratford East Picturehouse just cackled with glee.

Posted by: greercn | June 4, 2015

San Andreas

“San Andreas” will be the most successful film with a Spanish title this year. It’s a pity that the title is the only Spanish language on offer here.

This “San Andreas” is the fault that’s destroyed California, on miles of celluloid.

Hurtling down a canyon with a car and a helicopter grabs you from the first scenes. A breakneck pace is maintained through most of the 114 minutes.

With homage to “Earthquake” and “Towering Inferno” – known collectively as Shake n Bake – the viewer is hurtled through the Hoover Dam in Nevada before it becomes a race to save people from the wreckage of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino are surprisingly good as the central couple here. As their daughter, Alexandra Daddario races from danger to peril accompanied by Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson while she wears fewer clothes as the movie progresses. The younger characters are compelling and you root for them to survive.

Everyone takes the time to chat about what’s happening, rather than just running and screaming.

Paul Giamatti is just fine as the “we’re all doomed” quoting scientist and Archie Panjabi is glorious as a TV reporter. As always, she glows. Please, will somebody give her a brilliant part in a wonderful film?

Ioan Gruffudd is also here as Daniel. He gets great lines about building towers that will survive anything. Yeah, right.

A brief cameo from Kylie Minogue is superb, but over much too quickly.

Canadian Brad Peyton directs and the pace is snappy, with very few exceptions.

“San Andreas” is a much better movie than I thought it would be. Exceptionally entertaining and beautifully filmed, the action and stunts are all magnificent to watch.

A very full Stratford East Picturehouse including me and my Very Intelligent Friend enjoyed it and I’d love to watch it again and again.

The 2D is much clearer and easier on the eyes than the 3D version. Objects crash towards you, whichever version is chosen.

Beyond the land of guilty pleasure, it’s a mini holiday for the senses. Enjoy the ride, from the safe distance of your seat.

Posted by: greercn | May 29, 2015

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

Whee! Wow! Watching “Tomorrowland” is like being on the biggest roller coaster ride in the world.

Yes, the plot is full of holes. Why complain about gloomy news so often, yet feature a lot of scenes of it?

And the product placement is so obvious, it will distract you.

Please don’t get me started on the random colon in the title. This trend for colons has to stop.

I grew up on Disney and have longed for happier films about the future. So the joy on offer here is appreciated and most enjoyable.

Youngsters Britt Robertson (Casey) and Raffey Cassidy (Athena) steal scenes from George Clooney (Frank) and Hugh Laurie (Nix).

Adventurous Casey is trying to protect her dad’s job. She is given a pin which pushes her to a futuristic place.

Modern history, philosophy and scifi are among my most-loved genres and this is a great movie, although there is confusion in the story.

Just let go of that. You adored “The Jetsons” so you’ll be happy watching this. Everyone at the Stratford East Picturehouse oohed and aahed, as did I.

Younger children were frightened at certain times and even I jumped, so nervous kids should be warned that it gets dark, at times.

It’s a vision of the future based on ideals of the 1960s. It reminded me of the visionary work of Arthur Radebaugh so I’ll add this link.

http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/arthur-radebaughs-shiny-happy-future-512620295

Posted by: greercn | May 23, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

Explosions, chases, miles of sand and performances that respect the spirit of the old Mad Max movies are all here. Did you ever ask yourself what director George Miller might do with a massive budget? Wonder no more!

It takes a while to get used to Tom Hardy in the old Mel Gibson role. They are very different types of actors.

And Charlize Theron as Furiosa is an action woman who commands her scenes.

It’s pure genius to have the actor Hugo Keays-Byrne, who played villain Toecutter in the first 1979 movie, back here as lead villain.

In a post-apocalyptic desert world filled with evil, Max and Furiosa are thrown together. Furiosa is protecting a lot of very pretty woman and Nicholas Hoult plays a distinctive part in the mayhem that ensues.

The music, costumes, make-up and settings add to the desolate but beautiful look of it all.

I saw it in 3D at the Stratford East Picturehouse and the audience loved it. I felt 120 minutes was a bit too long, but it’s a normal length for dystopian future films, of which there are many.

Is it just me longing for a movie that shows a cheery future? Ah well. I was raised on Disney.

If you loved the old Mad Max features, you’ll adore this. It preserves the distinctive look of the originals, while adding lots of classy touches. The 3D is very special and pulls you in.

Posted by: greercn | May 23, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2

Unabashedly vulgar and filled with cheap gags “Pitch Perfect 2″ is hilarious.

This stands alone, so there is no problem if you missed 2012’s “Pitch Perfect”.

American a cappella stars the Barden Bellas are back.

Banned from competition after a very public wardrobe malfunction, the only way forward for the vocal stars is to win an international contest.

What follows is guffaws which create a “Hangover” for girl power.

Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are at the heart of this and both are wonderful. Director Elizabeth Banks also has a key role, as a commentator.

If you want politically correct movies, stay away from this. My Very Intelligent Friend and I laughed out loud a lot. I feared I was leaking brain cells, given what was being said. But, oh, we both enjoyed it, as did everyone at the Stratford East Picturehouse.

See it, if there is space in your life for brainless fun. The songs and dances are very good and it’s entertaining and full of joy.

Posted by: greercn | May 14, 2015

Spooks: The Greater Good

Once upon a time, there were lots of spies on TV. From “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” to “I Spy” to “The Avengers” (not Marvel), secret agents offered a way out of mundane life. These shows gave us excitement and luxury. The daddy of them all was and is James Bond.

Recently, spies have become thin on the ground, on small and large screens. “Spooks” – known as “MI5″ in North America – resurrected the genre and left you dizzy with wondering what had happened as each episode ended.

Fantastic actors came and went. The show killed off stars, shamelessly. Every character lived in a beautiful home, showing that spying paid well.

But it was a much more downbeat existence than that promised by earlier spy shows.

Does “Spooks” live up to viewer expectations?

It’s entertaining and Peter Firth is wonderful. Bleak times call for sad faces.

American interests are plotting to take over MI5. An evil terrorist – Arabic-speaking – is on the loose. Has Harry (Firth) turned against MI5?

New cast member Kit Harington plays Will Holloway. Harington is in “Game of Thrones”. Elyes Gabel is charismatic as Qasim the terrorist although he plays to stereotypes, throughout.

Originality was a major selling point of the TV show and there isn’t much of that on offer here.

But it all rattles along and the chases and explosions are all present and correct.

I found the beginning credits, with those peculiar square brackets, distracting and out of keeping with the rest of the story.

Tuppence Middleton, David Harewood and Tim McInnerny play key roles and are impressive. Jennifer Ehle has a great part. I wish I could stop seeing her as the ultimate Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”. In my memory, she’s stuck in time.

My companion and I enjoyed it as did all at a very-full Stratford East Picturehouse. I was left wanting more of the quirkiness that characterised the original show.

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