The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Film Review

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I was pleasantly surprised by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and so I looked forward to getting this out of the DVD shop. I enjoyed it. The group continue on their journey, there is a dragon, there is lots of running and fighting and it’s good. I liked it a lot. I kind of want the journey to be over now, though. I know that there are financial reasons for releasing them one per year, but I don’t like waiting. It builds anticipation but it also builds apathy.

The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

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Hulk (2003) Film Review

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Bruce Banner (Eric Banner) is a scientist working in a lab with his girlfriend Betty (Jennifer Connelly) when an accident happens. His father, played by Nick Nolte, (who Bruce has believed died when he was young) turns up to try to warn him that things are not as they seem. Eventually, it turns out, no spoiler alert here, that Banner has some strange DNA stuff going on that causes him to turn into the Incredible Hulk when he gets mad.

It’s an origin story, and for me, it takes a bit long to get anywhere. There are lots of sad thinking shots and confusion. The split shots were a nice nod to the comic book origin of the character and the story. Looking back at The Incredible Hulk, it did a great job of knocking off the whole origin story in the title sequence. It looks like our next Hulk sighting is going to be in the next Avengers film, and it will be Mark Ruffalo again. I’m pleased about this.

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The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) Film Review

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Chris (Will Smith) and his wife Linda (Thandie Newton) are struggling a lot to make ends meet and keep themselves and their son Christopher (Jaden Smith) going. The film is Chris’s story of fighting and resilience to make a better life regardless of the struggle he must go through.

I find it quite a tough film to watch, because to get to a better place, he really must drag his family down first. Thandie’s performance as a woman who is deeply depressed and unable to cope with the shitty life they have is heartbreaking and wonderful, and it is always good to see Will Smith get his acting chops on. He even runs like a real person in this film, not like the action hero we usually see. It’s a pretty Hollywood take on this story, but definitely worth a watch, even for Thandie alone.

Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for The Pursuit of Happyness.

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Orange is the New Black – TV Review

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The series starts with Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) about to go to prison. She is enjoying her last days of freedom with fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs) before taking herself in, having been convicted of a drug trafficking offense from years previous. As if that is not bad enough, her ex-girlfriend, the woman who she believes dobbed her in, Alex (Laura Prepon), is in the same prison. Piper needs to learn the prison politics and is helped and hindered by the cast of odd, aggressive, generous and violent prisoners.

The show is so well structured, with each episode telling the past of various characters as well as following Piper and the others on their journey within the system – in a similar manner to the wonderful Oz. There are so many fabulous characters, some delightful and charming, some utterly horrible. It really is great to see so many fantastic female characters in one show – if anything, I would say that it is the male characters (most notably some of the guards) who are less well represented.

So far, there have been two seasons, with the next coming in 2015.

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Get Low (2009) Film Review

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Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is the local hermit in a small American town in the nineteen thirties. When another local hermit dies, she is inspired to hold his own funeral, only while he is still alive. He wants to hear what people have to say about him, but perhaps he has a more important story to tell.

I enjoyed a lot of this film – it’s one of those gentle films that just moseys along, dropping bits of information here and there. It does everything it should reliably and well, with strong performances, but without the spark that makes some stories amazing.

 

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The Queen (2006) Film Review

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In the nineties, the British royal family were struggling. There were several divorces and the public were less and less engaged with royalty. Then Diana died and the country needed leadership. Very difficult for Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), who was unwilling to break royal protocol for a woman she despised. Receiving conflicting advice from her husband, Prince Phillip (James Cromwell) and mother, the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) to her son Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) and Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), these are the private struggles of a very private woman.

I enjoyed it. As a child and teenager, I grew up a bit of an Anglophile (though I’d blame The Goodies, Kenny Everett and The Young Ones more than the royal family). I was in the UK at the time that all of this madness happened (and by that, I mean the massive outpouring of grief and the media hounding the queen for a response. I’ve no idea if any of the behind the scenes stuff is vaguely close to being accurate, but it could be.

Helen Mirren won an Oscar for Best Performance in a Leading Role. The Queen was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Stephen Frears), Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Peter Morgan), Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Film Review

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Based on a John Le Carr novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy follows retired spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) as he attempts to discover which top ranking of MI6 is a Soviet Spy.

It’s an amazing cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Ciaran Hinds, Kathy Burke and Benedict Cumberbatch just to mention a few. I just wish I’d seen it in the cinema. It is relatively slow-moving, with not a lot of action, and I found at home that my attention kept drifting and I didn’t really follow it all. None the less, it was clearly an extremely good film that should have kept my attention. I blame me on this one.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Bridget O’Connot and Peter Straughan) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.

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