Posted by: greercn | July 23, 2015

Ant-Man

Marvel’s universe often featured the rebel character, in a way that DC comics didn’t. DC villains were allowed quirkiness, but this formed part of their downfall.

This energy and quest of the outsider remains part of the big attraction for Marvel fans. It’s been a little sad to see the revived movies feature so few of those flawed but fascinating beings.

So, hooray for Ant-Man! Convicted thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) teams up with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to prevent evil from ruling the planet. Scott’s journey to the costume is refreshing and moving.

Original director Edgar Wright dropped out and Peyton Reed stepped in. My worry increased as stories came out about new writers being added. Despite all the chopping and changing, some of which shows up as continuity flaws, I enjoyed this movie and felt it stayed true to the real spirit of Marvel.

Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stroll are just fine as the other two main characters, but it’s Judy Greer as Scott Lang’s estranged wife who drew my attention most, whenever she was in a scene. Why isn’t she a major star? She shines and stands out, whenever I see her in one of these small and key character parts she seems to get stuck with.

Bobby Cannavale is just fine as the policeman/boyfriend. Anthony Mackie as Falcon has a few very special moments.

Michael Pena is not on screen enough but when he is there, he’s wonderful.

The laughs, warmth and action all worked just fine for me. The 3D and the extraordinary shrinking and expanding scenes, along with some inventive chases managed to amuse me and my Very Intelligent Friend.

You can argue about some of the choices made, comparing them to those of the old comic stories, but this is a credible Marvel universe. You feel you are inside some of the extraordinary visual treats and the 3D enhances, without adding darkness.

Lovers of Thomas The Tank Engine may recoil in horror during the end climax.

Everyone at Stratford East Picturehouse enjoyed the experience, as did we.

That Stan Lee cameo you’re waiting for is very near the end of the two hours. Stay right until the end of the credits as you get two teaser trailers.

Posted by: greercn | July 15, 2015

Hitchcock’s Home

http://www.hitchcockshome.co.uk/

For three nights only, Alfred Hitchcock is coming home.

The master of suspense was born just up the road from where I live. His parents ran a shop in Leytonstone High Road in the southern bit of the E11 area of east London.

It’s not there now. A garage and a chicken shop have a blue plaque, telling you he was born here. In a rather lovely act of homage, there are birds painted on the adjoining building and along the walk, just to the north.

Tomorrow (16th), Friday (17th) and Saturday (18th), three Hitchcock films will be shown in the graveyard of St John’s Church, Leytonstone, E11, as part of the Leytonstone Festival.

“Dial M For Murder” (16th), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (17th) and “The Lady Vanishes (18th) will be shown as dusk falls each evening, at about 9.30pm.

These events are being run by the clever and talented Dee Wood, who has invited me to speak on how Hitchcock influenced other directors. That was the subject of a long paper I wrote at McGill University, about a million years ago, when I first programmed film festivals and learned more about the movies and why I love them all, so very much.

There will be food and drink vans and the doors open at 6.30pm, each night. Bring blankets and a folding chair.

Cost is £15 per night or £30 for all three nights.

If you’re in London, you should come along. The weather – touch wood – should be fine and these will be terrific events.

Join us. I attach the link to all the details and to buy tickets. Thursday is selling out fast.

If you’re coming via Leytonstone tube station on the Central Line, stop to take a look at the glorious murals which line the walls of the walkway out to Church Lane. They show scenes from Hitchcock’s films.

Posted by: greercn | July 15, 2015

Song Of The Sea

I cried real tears. My Very Intelligent Friend looked away, in disbelief. This is a movie for little kids, right?

Apparently, adults who are easily moved by Irish folklore and the death of mothers may sob, more than a little.

Controversy arose at the Oscars when “Big Hero ” won best animated feature, over this film and the excellent “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”.

I love animation and this was a great year for films aimed at kiddies that were equally adored by adults.

The music, drawing and voicing of this have a very special and distinctive sense. It just feels unusual.

You need to be comfortable with supernatural themes and with mythology, but there’s an unmistakable charm at work here.

I knew very little about the plot going in and that helped my sense of wonder.

My Very Intelligent Friend and I both enjoyed it very much. You will too, if you have a soul.

Posted by: greercn | July 10, 2015

Minions

Lovers of language, rejoice. This movie will float your boat.

“Minions” is a prequel to “Despicable Me”. If you like animation, Gru and “Despicable Me 2″, you’ll adore this.

You don’t have to have seen either of those films to enjoy those fascinating minions.

The plot follows our tiny yellow friends from prehistoric times in their quest to find an evil master.

Friends have complained that they found the British “Swinging Sixties” plot, which occupied much of the second half, frankly laughable.

But I just suspended disbelief and got involved in the adventures of Kevin, Stuart and Bob as they try out various villains and whoosh from New York to Florida to London.

Do stay after the credits as there is a very funny song performance.

Are you a big kid? I am. I long for the box set of all three films so I can laugh out loud again and again, in private.

The little kids seemed to be more entertained than the adults. With the exception of me.

Famous voices and silly scenes are here, but all I really cared about was deciphering the wonderful language and enjoying the ride.

How much you like this will depend entirely on how big a kid you are.

Posted by: greercn | July 10, 2015

Slow West

Modern reinventions of the Western remind me of why I loved them so much when I was a child. “Slow West” gives you a real sense of wide open spaces, full of danger.

Kodi Smit-McPhee plays innocent Jay, traipsing across the Wild West in search of his lost love. Jay, his girl and her dad are all meant to be Scottish, yet their accents are all over the place. Don’t let this bother you.

Michael Fassbender is Silas, an outlaw who decides to protect Jay. His motivation is getting the bounty placed on the heads of Jay’s girl and her dad.

Ben Mendelsohn has a striking small role as Payne, another outlaw.

There are loads of striking scenes that pull at your emotions. It’s beautifully filmed and director and writer John Maclean is worth watching out for, in future.

The audience at Stratford East Picturehouse all stayed respectfully silent and seemed to enjoy it.

My Very Intelligent friend liked it. For me, sections worked beautifully yet certain scenes lingered too long.

This is a movie that will work well on TV. The twists and turns will give you plenty to talk about.

It’s a brave attempt to capture the spirit of exploration and the romance of travel, in difficult conditions.

Viewers who are easily affected by violence may feel uncomfortable, at times. I did.

It may or may not bother you that the light is wrong, for the American West. It’s filmed in New Zealand.

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.

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