Sunday, 1 May 2016

What we've been watching (April)

We watch quite a lot of movies; at the moment LOVEFiLM send us two discs every week... although I'm always considering the best way to get our movies.

So this is what we watched in April - come back to see what May has brought us.

Labor Day
This is one of those movies which manages to tell the story with a very small cast. Kate Winslett is a depressed single mother living with her young son; one day in the grocery store they meet an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) and they spend the day with him; forging a relationship. The film is as much about the development of the characters as it is about the story of the day unfolding.

Dragon Blade
Jackie Chan and John Cusack are on the famous Silk Road two thousand years ago. A Roman Centurion and a member of the Silk Road Protection squad; initially on opposite sides they become somewhat unlikely allies when they are both framed for treason. Some impressive scenery, a good story and (of course) some impressive fight scenes,

Another film examining the story of Peter Pan; this is a sort of origin story. Peter is an orphan taken from the orphanage to the magical world of Neverland. It is one of those films which feels that it could have been a little bit more, it certainly isn't one of the best attempts at Peter Pan.

Hotel Transylvania 2 
Back in the world of Hotel Transylvania for another story, Dracula's daughter is all grown up and married with a child of her own - the question is, will he become a vampire? This feels like a sequel for sequels sake, but it is a diverting enough way to spend a short amount of time.

The Martian
This film had a high bar set for it, so much publicity preceded it. The film centres around an astronaut who is stranded on Mars when his crew return to earth, and the plot centres around his experiences trying to survive and his struggle to return home. I'm not fond of films where there are large sections of the plot centring on one character alone on screen. Ben Afleck did a good job, but I found that the film went on too long, and I lost interest in the outcome before we got to the end of the film. 

The Dressmaker
Kate Winslet as Myrtle returns to her home town to take care of her unwell mother. There she has to face the townspeople and a dark secret from her past. All the cast put in stellar performances in this film; a good story too.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 
Having watched all of the previous three films it was more of a chore than anything else to watch the final instalment. Not so much of a film to tell a story but a vehicle to wrap up all the loose ends. Probably only one that got good marks from die hard fans.

Robert de Niro becomes bored of his life in retirement so he takes a job as an intern. He manages to become an indispensable part of the company and forms an unlikely friendship with his boss, Anne Hathaway. A quite light-hearted film with occasional moments of comedy.

The Lady in the Van
Watched about twenty minutes of this film. which came highly acclaimed from many sources, but the story telling style just didn't grab me (despite the cast, which is good on paper).

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Palmyra's Triumphal Arch

After being destroyed by terrorists this 2,000 year old monument rises again.

Trafalgar Square is playing host to the 15ft high replica. The arch has been carved, using 3D technology, from Carrara marble using photographs of the original arch.

The arch is a two thirds scale replica and will be Trafalgar Square until 21st Aprill - moving on to New York and Dubai.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

What we've been watching (March)

We watch quite a lot of movies; at the moment LOVEFiLM send us two discs every week... although I'm always considering the best way to get our movies.

So this is what we watched in March - come back to see what April has brought us.

The Lobster
In a dystopian society, single people must find mates within 45 days or risk being transformed into animals.

Quirky would definitely be the first word I use to describe this film. All the cast give solid acting performances, the film is well written and well realised. These are not the problems. The almost painful self-awareness in crafting the universe and dialogue are quite distracting from the movie... and as for the string quartet that provide a lot of the score - I was rather hoping that the twist in the tale might be someone going to the woods to shoot them.

Agent 47 Hitman
No comment as the movie was switched off after about five minutes. The plot didn't grab me, neither did the staging or anything else about it.

The Walk
Philippe Petit takes his love performance beyond simple street acts, all the way to the top of the World Trade Centre.

Once you get past the French accent employed by the main cast member this is a surprisingly good film. I didn't know the story behind it so I also go the commentary highlights afterwards from Rich who did know the story. It is superbly well acted and the mix of special effects with live performance works really well.

Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson (yes, the author) decides to walk the Appalachian Trail.

This is a fairly pedestrian movie, although it has some stunning scenery; the best bit of the film is that it manages not to make you feel bad about not having walked the Appalachian Trail!

A botched casino robbery leads the thieves to hijack a city bus.

Despite the fact that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the least convincing villain (ever) this was a reasonably enjoyable movie. Do keep watching to the end, it might seem like a typical robbery movie - but there is a twist in the tale.

Dark Places
Confronting the murder of her mother and two sisters when she was a girl Libby Day faces the possibility that her brother, jailed for the crime, might be innocent.

This was well acted and probably well written, just not really my type of film - far too stern and serious.

Date Night
Feeling that they are stuck in a rut the couple at the centre of the story decide to go on a date night and try something different, with disastrous consequences.

Whilst I'm not fond of films that are too serious I don't like films with slapstick ridiculous humour either. There is a limit to my ability to swallow ridiculous scenarios.

American Ultra
The small town stoner at the centre of this story spends most of his time writing graphic novels and getting high; if only he knew he has his own comic book life as a trained CIA assassin.

I was fairly determined not to like this film, but the superb acting from Jesse Eisenberg and the rest of the cast managed to win me over.