The Trip

I’ve never laughed as hard in a cinema as I did while watching Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip (2010). This film, also available as a six-part TV show, places real life actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on a gastro-adventure across mild English countrysides. Employed as food connoisseurs for a newspaper, they dine on all the very best foods,…

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything (2014) is a tug-of-war between being a film about Stephen Hawking’s (Eddie Redmayne) medical spiral downward with simultaneous scientific discoveries and a film about (MILD SPOILERS) how his wife Jane (Felicity Jones) met her new husband Jonathan (Charlie Cox). And why shouldn’t it be? It’s advertised as a Hawking bio-pic, but if…

Special Correspondents

In 1954, a radio engineer named Albert Piteux (which appropriately translates to Albert Pitiful in French) used sound effects to pretend he was reporting live from the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, even though he was safe in his hotel room in Hanoi–on the complete opposite side of Vietnam. This event inspired the 2009 comical…

The Cottage

The Cottage has all of the ingredients that make up a classic horror film without any mucking around with unique plot devices or character depth. A thug who believes he’s the only competent person in the story. His scaredy cat brother, unwillingly thrust into criminal life. A martial artist stripper. Asian spies. A farmer with a…

Exile

Exile is a 2011 two-part television drama by Paul Abbott and Danny Brocklehurst. You know you’re in for a treat when you learn that you’ve got John Simm and Olivia Colman playing siblings with Jim Broadbent playing their father. Simm, who would win a BAFTA for his role in Exile, had just come off filming Mad Dogs, which…

Son of Rambow, film

Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is a good little boy with a religious mother (Jessica Hynes) who isn’t even allowed to watch television and movies. What a perfect hobby for him, then, to be an amateur filmmaker. With the help of Lee (Will Poulter–the River Phoenix to Milner’s Wil Wheaton), the naughtiest kid at school, Will…

Skellig, film

Michael (Bill Milner), his father (John Simm), and his pregnant mother (Kelly Macdonald) have just moved into a new home, making way for Michael’s forthcoming baby sister. While his family struggles with a premature birth, his father’s drunkenness, and his baby sister’s heart condition, Michael befriends the homeless man (played by Tim Roth) who, unbeknownst…

High-Rise

In the film adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise, Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) has built what he believes will be the perfect residence: a high-rise apartment building that contains both affordable housing for the poor and luxury suites for the rich. It is so perfect that–with in-building super markets and swimming pools–one never needs to…

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos’ dystopia takes place in the near future in a world where people who don’t find mates are sentenced to 45 days in The Hotel. If they don’t find a partner by the end of those 45 days, they are turned into an animal of their choice. If they try to escape, the other…

Death at a Funeral

Directed by Frank Oz, Death at a Funeral (2007) is a comedy film about Daniel’s father’s funeral. Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes make an excellent team as Daniel and his wife Jane, trying to soberly cope with the death of Daniel’s father while his brother Justin (Ewen Bremner) is trying to shag people like it’s a party, somebody’s…

The Gospel of Us

Dave McKean’s 2012 film The Gospel of Us centers around a modern Welsh man who, after abandoning his family to live in the woods for several weeks, develops amnesia and stumbles back into his hometown of Port Talbot an empty slate. He believes that he can replace his life story by learning the stories of other people,…

Stardust, film

When small town boy Tristan Thorne crosses a poorly guarded country wall, he discovers that his biggest dreams didn’t come close to those of his parents, who knew of a magical world just beyond the town’s fringe. Searching for a fallen star, Tristan becomes ensnared in a wicked plot concocted by youth-seeking witches. Can he…

Kes

I just learn that Barry Hines passed away last Friday. He authored the book A Kestrel for a Knave. I never read the book, but the classic film Kes by Ken Loach is based on this book. No better time but now than to remember it with fondness. I admit that I rented the 1969 film Kes (by mail…

Code of a Killer

An 80s cop drama starring John Simm–no, it’s not Life on Mars! Code of a Killer (2015) is a two-part TV movie based on the real life events that took place the first time DNA “genetic fingerprints” were used in an active police investigation to catch a killer. John Simm plays Alec Jeffreys, the scientist who developed…

Withnail and I

Withnail and I (1987) is one of the great British comedies. It is at once both a “city boys can’t handle country life” romp and a “British politeness is crippling” commentary, mixed in with drugs, sexuality, and a chicken. The story begins with such quiet hilarity, it’s difficult for the rest of the film to compete…

Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes (2015) is a Sherlock Holmes story featuring a 93-year-old Holmes (Sir Ian McKellen) long after the deaths of the primary characters in the Sherlock canon: Mycroft, Watson, Mrs. Hutchinson. We find Mr. Holmes with some land in the country, preoccupying himself with beekeeping, either as a hobby or as a desperate attempt to produce…

Tuesday vs. The Bank Job

I love that the Amazon description describes Tuesday as a “fast-moving” heist story because it’s anything but. Tuesday is the story of four separate attempts to rob the same bank by four separate groups of people, all coincidentally on the same day. An A-list cast, Tuesday stars John Simm, Philip Glenister, Kate Magowan, Kevin McNally, and Ashley Walters. However, this 80-minute…

Moon, a review

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole operator of a moon-based mining station in the not-so-distant future. All he has for entertainment is his model-building. All he has for company is the shipboard computer Gertie, who speaks in an eerily calm voice (of Kevin Spacey), not unlike 2001‘s Hal. He is nearing the end of his…

Lennon Naked

Lennon Naked (2010) is a critical biopic of John Lennon starting around the time he meets Yoko Ono and ending when they move to New York. This is a straight drama, but nerds will like it for the sheer casting brilliance. Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave) does a convincing Lennon and carries the film; Naoko…

The Ruling Class

The Ruling Class is a 1972 Peter O’Toole comedy-drama film about an earl who thinks he’s Jesus. If you think about it, it’s a bit like David Icke: Earl Jack thinks he’s Jesus, and people go along with it because he’s famous. Then someone proves to him that he isn’t Jesus and he turns around and…

A Fish Called Wanda / Fierce Creatures

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) is a relatively well-known John Cleese film starring Cleese, fellow Python Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline. It’s the story of a bunch of unlikable people manipulating each other to get their way…and they succeed. Fierce Creatures (1997) is Wanda‘s more obscure younger brother with exactly the same cast and essentially the…