Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

DVD Rental – Top 10 Favourite Films

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Favourite FilmsWith some highly anticipated, potential mega-hits coming out this summer, including Alien semi-prequel Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, along with the recently released Avengers Assemble, we thought we would find the Top 10 Favourite Films of All Time, as voted by our readers.

We expected some people would dodge the obvious and somewhat clichéd classics, like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course, Piranha 3D. We didn’t expect such a great mix of movies, with horror, comedy, action and romance all getting a look-in.

Yes, the big winner is perhaps expected, but there are some surprises in there, and we think it shows the continued diversity of both modern cinema and the UK’s own film fanatics.

So without further rambling, here is the list, counting down from 10.

10. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott’s revolutionary sci-fi smash-hit, based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, saw Harrison Ford’s Deckard chase down replicants in a dystopian future. Rutger Hauer gave Han Solo a sound hiding, and Sean Young was great as reluctant replicant Rachael.

9. Alien

Ridley again, and with his success rate for sci-fi it seems guaranteed that upcoming Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus should be a classic. This 1979 game-changer is often credited with revolutionising the heroine character, as well as introducing the surprise-shock ending which has become a stalwart in horror. And who could forget that famous chest-burster scene? Grim.

8. The Goonies

The Goonies, helmed by Superman and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, featured a young Samwise Gamgee (also known as Sean Astin) and friends trying to find the lost fortune of One-Eyed Willie. You wouldn’t need three guesses to work out that Spielberg is heavily involved behind the scenes in this charming family adventure.

7. The Notebook

This surprise entry doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, as yank at them incessantly whilst showing you pictures of kittens. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams do the unrequited, forbidden love thing, then mum gets angry, then the two separate for years only to stumble upon each other, both faced with a great decision to make. But who is telling the story?

6. Crash (2004)

Not to be mistaken with Cronenberg’s mid-nineties gag reflex test of the same name, Crash is an inventive, compelling and beautifully crafted examination of racial prejudices, told through several intertwining stories set in Los Angeles. It really is a modern classic; funny, gripping, engaging, unpredictable and original, Paul Haggis’ movies is simply a must-see, with stellar performances from the likes of Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe and Thandie Newton.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Aching Yawn

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

breakingdawnposterIt’s that time of year again, when we are subjected to a movie adaptation of one of the Twilight novels. Whether or not the books are good is irrelevant; the first film was a fine balance of grim and dull, the second was an absolute slog and full-on filmmaking disaster, and the third was a marginal improvement but still awful in a way that leaves searing pain coarsing throughout the central nervous system.

So, Breaking Dawn was unlikely to do much except for the fully committed and blinded-by-devotion fans of the series.

Breaking Dawn – Part I sees the eternally depressed Edward and the eternally depressing Bella get married on an island, sleep together and have a baby. There isn’t much more to squeeze out in terms of a premise; the marriage ceremony seems to drag on longer than a German opera, and then they finally have sex, but not without Edward whinging his pitiful way through the process, emanating about as much eroticism as a dead cat.

Bella gets a couple of bruises from their night of vampire-human playtime, and then Edward insists they play chess for the remainder of their honeymoon. Lucky Bella!

We are saved from this nonsense by her pregnancy, but the weird baby-human-vampire inside her is a bit much for her measly pelvis. Jacob is still really upset about her choice, and stumbles through the film looking miserable and being annoying. Much of the same ground is covered, and there is a meagre threat from some of Jacob’s clan.

The performances are abhorrent, with US daytime soap-style line delivery, and a total absence of charisma. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are all terrible in slightly different ways, and their little triangle has somehow been stretched out over six hours of achingly dull cinema. The minor shining light is a cameo from the awesome Michael Sheen during a mid-end credits sequence. Too little too late, sadly.

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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Friday, January 14th, 2011

twilight-eclipse-posterLove it or hate it, the Twilight beast rampages on, as book number 3 gets the movie treatment mere months after the release of predecessor New Moon.

In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, emo-vampires and weightlifting-werewolves are forced to form an uneasy alliance after nutty vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) breeds an army of ‘newborns’. Vampires are at their most aggressive and lethal just after they ‘turn’, and Victoria plans to unleash this army on the sleepy town of Forks, with the ultimate goal of killing the frighteningly miserable Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).

Victoria is miffed at sensitive gentleman vamp Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) because he killed her partner back in Twilight, and she believes the best way to exercise revenge would be to kill his beloved Bella. Meanwhile, stroppy werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), aggravated by Bella’s preferred choice of lover, continues to insist that he is the right man-type-creature thing for her. Bella, to Jacob’s dismay, would much rather be a vampire with Edward, which happens to be part of an agreement made with super-vampires The Volturi, during the last instalment.

With the newborn army, and the aggrieved Victoria, on the warpath and heading straight for Bella’s neck, the awkward alliance of werewolves and vampires trains together for about 30 seconds, as they attempt to sharpen their tools enough to defeat the army before Bella is turned into soup.

Eclipse retreads so much of New Moon, and considering that New Moon was shockingly awful, this has not gone well. Eclipse may be following its source material, but that doesn’t mean that the exhaustive exploration of the love triangle translates well to the screen. The dialogue between Jacob, Edward and Bella is at times excruciating and wouldn’t be lost in a daytime soap opera.

Eclipse was marketed as the action-packed instalment that would be more accessible to those who have not been blown away by the surprisingly popular notion of emo-vampires. Considering that these films are about vampires and werewolves, the first two instalments haven’t seen a lot of action from either party, with the movies focusing mainly on Bella mulling over her oh-so-difficult life, whilst two men vie for her affections. In Eclipse we see more of Jacob trying to win her over, more of Edward being very dull and apparently uninterested in premarital sex with the gorgeous Kristen Stewart, more trees and fields, more shockingly bad CGI werewolves doing very little, more topless men and more of Bella being man-greedy, indecisive, morose, selfish, thoughtless and generally irritating.

We have seen so much of Eclipse in the other films, so perhaps it would have been best to cut down on these elements and bring the focus to some of the saga’s new story threads and themes. Unfortunately there is nothing else to the story, other than a weak plot about an advancing army that turns out to be somewhat of a pushover, so there’s nothing to fall back on that could provide the film with something refreshing.

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(500) Days of Summer – 90 minutes of break-up

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

500dosIt’s been almost a decade since a frantic John Lithgow and his alien family left Earth, bringing about the end of hit US sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. Since then, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Tommy, has made his name on the indie film circuit by appearing in some truly excellent, offbeat films.

His brave turn in Mysterious Skin and brilliant performance in modern noir Brick were clear signs that Gordon-Levitt is very talented actor, with a good eye for a great role.

In (500) Days of Summer, Gordon-Levitt plays Tom Hansen, an ex-architecture student who now works as a writer for a greeting card company. His generally nonchalant disposition is radically altered when Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) enters his life. Summer does not believe in true love, but finds Tom interesting enough to start dating him.

She makes it clear that she has no intention of becoming involved in a relationship; this spells disaster because Tom does believe in true love and thinks he has found it.

At the beginning, it is revealed that the couple break-up, and the nonlinear format of the narrative serves to show us sporadic moments of their time together. The relationship is deconstructed, and various days numbered between 1 and 500 are used to bookmark the film’s events.

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Teens and Teeth

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

twilight-new-moon-poster11The Twilight Saga: New Moon sees vampire wannabe Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) return for a second bite of the Twilight cherry, as ever-thoughtful-looking Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) decides to do a runner in the interests of her safety.

Bella hits 18, and becomes increasingly concerned about the potential age gap that will inevitably exist between her and Edward. He is Bella’s eternally youthful lover and saviour from Twilight, and a morally-astute vampire, with an equally ethical vampiric family (aside from the odd moment of human-bloodlust). Bella repeatedly requests a good chomp on the neck from Edward, so that she can become part of his undead, flying, fang-family.

Naturally, Edward is opposed; he believes that the life of a vampire is a curse, and cannot bring himself to turn Bella, no matter how intensely she desires the twisted transformation. On Bella’s 18th birthday, a slight paper cut to her tender human skin ignites the fire in Edward’s brother, resulting in a minor scrap, and some Matrix-style jumping around.

Whilst Bella is essentially unharmed, Edward believes that their relationship is a danger to her safety. Cue a break-up in a forest (how, er, romantic?), and one devastated teenager. After all the hullaballoo in the first film, Edward bizarrely calls it a day and his family disappear with him to an unknown destination.

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The Proposal

Friday, October 30th, 2009

proposalSandra Bullock plays boss-from-hell Margaret Tate, the ferocious senior editor at a New York publishing company, who terrorises her colleagues, sacks her employees on a whim and will go to any measure to secure an Oprah interview for one of her colleagues. But there’s one stumbling block to her success. She’s Canadian, and having neglected to sign some immigration papers, finds herself on the brink of deportation.

Fumbling for a solution, Margaret has a brainwave: marry an American, and the coveted green card is hers for the taking. Since all the men she knows are far too scared of her to consider a romantic attachment, let alone matrimony, she blackmails her underling Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into marrying her, and he in turn demands a promotion and the publication of his first novel.

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In the Mood for Love (Fa yeung nin wa)

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

mood1More serene than the films that shaped Wong Kar-Wai’s early career, such as Chungking Express and Ashes of Time, this is an exquisite paean to the agony of repressed emotions and unrequited love. In the Mood for Love forms the second part of a loose trilogy, together with Days of Being Wild, and 2046, released in 2004. Set in the straight laced society of 1960s Hong Kong, the film focuses on two neighbours whose friendship deepens when they suspect their respective partners of having an extra-marital affair.

His name is Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung). Hers is Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung). He is a journalist for one of the Hong Kong papers, she’s an executive assistant. Neither is wanting for money, as evinced by their elegant attire, but they frequently find themselves alone, despite living in a shared building where the neighbours play majong and gossip late into the night. Looking for company during the lonely evenings, the two of them meet for noodles at a local café. When they discover their partners are cheating on them, Mr Chow and Ms Su vow to keep their own friendship pure. Interestingly, Wong chooses to keep the cheating couple off screen. Their adultery is tawdry and commonplace, while the reticence of the two leads lends their growing love for each other a sort of quixotic nobility.

Christopher Doyle’s camerawork is breathtaking. Featuring the lush, saturated colour palette of film noir, each shot becomes a work of art. The camera acts as a voyeur, capturing scenes through doors, windows, swirling cigarette smoke and the heavy monsoon rains. (more…)

Les Destinées Sentimentales

Monday, October 5th, 2009

destineesBased on the epic novel by Jacques Chardonne, Les Destinées Sentimentales charts thirty years of French history through the eyes of two star-crossed lovers.

Set among the bourgeois protestant families of the Limoges region of France, Les Destinées follows the career of Jean Barnery (Charles Berling), the reluctant heir of a traditional porcelain business who must learn to steer his way through the frantic beginnings of the 20th century.

Barnery starts out as a minister in the small Protestant community of Barbazac, but after a scandalous divorce leaves his vocation and young daughter and embarks on a passionate romance with the orphaned Pauline (Emmanuelle Béart), a headstrong atheist whom he will later marry. The two wives are polar opposites, and tap into different areas of Barnery’s character. The first Mme Barnery, played by an icy Isabelle Huppert, exemplifies religious stricture; Pauline’s wide eyes and welcoming smile suggest a warm, open sexuality.

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I Love You, Man

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

romantic-dinnerWhilst Judd Apatow’s name may not appear on the closing credits, his influence in this so-called “bromantic-comedy” is palpable. Following in the footsteps of Apatow’s irreverent comedies Superbad and Pineapple Express, I Love You Man, written and directed by John Hamburg, probes the concept of “man-love” – that intimate, zealous friendship between two straight males – with perception, wit, and plenty of cringeworthy moments along the way.

Apatow alumnus Paul Rudd plays Peter Klaven, an awkward nice-guy who begins the film proposing to his long-term girlfriend Zooey (Rushida Jones). Always more comfortable in female company, Peter realises he doesn’t have any close male friends to perform the role of best man, and so embarks on a series of luckless “man-dates” in an attempt to widen his circle of friends. After some predictable misunderstandings (such as when dinner with the seemingly perfect Doug turns a bit gay), Peter finds his man.

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Rachel Getting Married

Friday, September 4th, 2009

rachelA modern-day prodigal, Kym (the beautiful Anne Hathaway) is the recovering drug-addict who takes a day’s leave from rehab to celebrate the wedding of her sister. But the cracks in their fragile relationship soon show when Kym’s problems threaten to upstage the bride on her big day.

In spite of its seemingly transparent title, Rachel Getting Married is far more concerned with the wastrel sister than Rachel herself. Wearing her scars like a badge of honour, Kym is at once vulnerable and bristlingly obnoxious, revealing her egocentric perspective at the most inappropriate of moments. One such incident is the wedding speech in which Kym offers an overblown apology for her behaviour over the years, once again taking the spotlight off the married couple, and back onto Kym and her “issues”. One can’t help but cringe.

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