Friday 31 December 2010

Top Films Of 2010

1. Mine – Captivating from the very first minute, this heart wrenching documentary follows Hurricane Katrina survivors in their harrowing attempts to be re-united with their beloved dogs which they were forced to leave behind.

2. The Town – Ben Affleck’s tale of Charleston bank robbers would have been no.1 in any other year. It’s even better than Gone Baby Gone, cementing Affleck’s status as a top quality director.

3. Tony – Peter Ferdinando deserves nothing short of an Oscar nod for his amazing portrayal of a socially challenged loner who resorts to murder as a way of making friends. Outstanding.

4. The Expendables – Sylvester Stallone delivers the kind of film that action fans have been longing for as his crack team of mercenaries attempt to take down an oppressive regime.

5. Rare Exports – A movie from Finland about Santa? This dark take on the Santa legend is a welcome change to the usual Christmas movie drivel.

6. It’s Complicated – Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin excel in this excellent American Pie for the over 40’s brand of comedy.

7. Spiral – A geek with mental issues finds purpose when he begins a relationship with a work colleague. How long will the tranquillity last?

8. Hot Tub Time Machine – Four friends find themselves back in the 80’s after taking a dip in a magical hot tub. Far better than expected.

9. Rampage – Tense journey into the mind of a disillusioned young man with horrific results. Controversial director Uwe Boll is at the helm of this surprisingly well-acted and tense drama with an inspired ending.

10. The Fourth Kind – “Real” footage is mixed with the fictional account of this creepy story of alien abduction.

Notable mentions also go to The Losers, Machete and The Crazies.

All of the above (except Mine and The Fourth Kind) are reviewed elsewhere here.

Films included were not all necessarily released in 2010.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Book: Ashes by Matthew Crow

Nestling somewhere between TV shows Shameless and This Is England, Matthew Crow’s debut novel takes us into the heart of the Meadow Well estate, a grim inner-city jungle dominated by thugs, drunks and drug addicts.

Following his release from prison Jack vows to stay out of trouble but his long suffering Mum Shirley fears the worst and when two locals are involved in a fatal car accident her intuition is proved to be correct.

Also helping Jack stay on the right side of the law is his Probation Officer, a former Meadow Well resident who has proven that with work and ambition you can make it out.

The first half of the book is fantastic as we join a community of rogues and scallywags struggling to make ends meat, all told in a fluid style peppered with fine moments of gallows humour. Unfortunately the humour quickly fades as the mood changes, along with the story, to one of disgruntled youths on a path of destruction. The riots themselves become quickly repetitive as innocent bystanders fear for their lives and property while the only way the gangs can show outrage is by setting fire to buildings within their own estate.

A fine debut showing bags of potential from the 23 year old Matthew Crow and while this isn’t perfect it signals the arrival of a future main player in the genre.

Ric's Rating: 72%

Tuesday 28 December 2010

DVD: The Horde

When you watch a film like this French Zombie splatter-fest it's easy to see why European cinema often scoffs at Hollywood horror. This is wall to wall hardcore violence with little or no let up in the pace.

A team of cops enter a run down apartment block and find themselves forced to team up with the criminals they are there to arrest in order to make it out alive.

This is instantly enjoyable and features some fantastic Human v Zombie fight scenes but ultimately it has no likeable characters giving you nobody to root for.

Fast furious fun but no depth.

Ric's rating: 62%

Thursday 23 December 2010

Film: Skyline

A group of twenty-something friends awake from a night of partying to a blinding light from outside. When you look at the light you fall under it's spell and are soon on your way to a gruesome demise.
Yes, it's Alien invasion time again as the source of the light is revealed as either the creatures themselves or their Mother Ship.
This film plays kinda like a slasher movie as the cast are bumped off one by one with the Aliens taking the place of Jason/Freddie/Michael.
It starts off good fun and kicks up a gear when David Zayas (Dexter, The Expendables) appears but it's all downhill from there as it becomes rather silly with it's attempts to take a leaf out of District 9's book.
The cool effects and nifty Aliens can't make up for a shoddy story but if you switch off your brain it's just about passable.
Ric's Rating: 52%

Sunday 19 December 2010

Film: Cyrus

John C Reilly (Step Brothers) plays a divorcee struggling to come
to terms with life as a singleton when he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei), the two quickly begin a relationship before Molly's 21 year old still-at-home Son (Jonah Hill) becomes a serious problem.

This starts off mildly amusing but quickly becomes a creepy Oedipus complex drama that is neither dramatic or funny.

The character of Cyrus is a loathsome man-child that no one in their right mind would tolerate for five minutes let alone attempt to work around while forming a new relationship.

I get that it's supposed to be funny and touches on a subject that is true to life in a lot of families but they should have went for all out comedy (which would have worked) instead of this weird mix that just doesn't work.

Ric's Rating: 37%

Friday 17 December 2010

DVD: Unthinkable

When Michael Sheen (Frost / Nixon) transforms himself from Stephen Arthur Younger to Yusuf Atta Mohamed in the chilling opening scene of this topical drama you are immediately absorbed into the world of terrorism and those trying to protect against it.
What follows is not the typical Hollywood, race against time to stop bombs exploding action film, it's a character driven ensemble drama that has fine perfomances from Sheen, Samuel L Jackson and The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss.
Jackson's character goes by the name of H and he is a specialist
interrogator known for getting results. The methods he uses to attempt to extract information make for very uncomfortable viewing, especially in such a mainstream Hollywood movie.
The script has you questioning your own beliefs as Mohamed's motives are revealed and Director Gregor Jordan has done an excellent job in creating an edgy hard hitting drama the likes of which is a rarity from the Hollywood movie factory. Hopefully others will follow suit.
Ric's Rating: 86%

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Music: Dolph Lundgren singing !!

I don't normally do this but this video is so good I couldn't resist. I mean where else can you see Ivan Drago, Freddie Kruger, The Hulk, Ricardo Tubbs, Norm from Cheers and Mahoney from Police Academy (to name but a few) sing a ballad.

Apparently it's a promo for a chatshow from Norway and some of the celebrities involved aren't too happy about it as they reckon they've been duped in some way.

I think they should lighten up as it's really funny........and kinda cool. If it doesn't brighten your day nothing will.

Check it out, you'll be surprised at who you see.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Ric Recommends: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Trailer for the fantastic Rare Exports. Full review in previous post.

Film: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

When young Pietari and his friend stumble upon an excavation site near their farming community in Finland, the boy immediately suspects that it's none other than Santa Claus himself that's being dug up.
This isn't the "Ho Ho Ho" Santa that we all know and love, the Santa in this fantastic horror/thriller from Finland is the undiluted original, the one who tears naughty children to pieces.
Very rarely does a Christmas film aimed at adults come along and this is an absolute delight. Onni Tommila puts in a fine performance as the young boy who knows whats really going on and Jorma Tommila (no idea if they're related) as his Father manages to show vulnerability beneath the surface of a world weary, hard working man.
The entire cast are top notch and special mention also goes to Peeter Jakobi as the creepy Santa.
I'm glad this film got a cinema release here in the UK but wherever you are and on whatever format it is available this is a must-see movie for anyone wanting something a bit different this festive season.
Ric's Rating: 91%

Friday 3 December 2010

Magazine: DVD & Blu-ray Review

The latest edition of DVD & Blu-ray Review magazine is in the UK shops now.
In it you'll find my brief reviews of:
Release - A convicted priest tries to keep his affair with one of the guards hidden in this UK drama.
Running In Traffic - Scottish tale of love, loss and inner city crime.