Steve Jobs (2015) Film Review

We all know who Steve Jobs was – that guy who stood up in front of crowds showing his new exciting products – iPhone, iPad, iPod – to masses of engineers and computer geeks. Pretty much all else I know of him was that he started Apple with Steve Wozniak and was fired by Apple later, and then later was back at Apple. This film tells of some of those early days – and of a daughter that apparently he didn’t believe was his.

When the music is so dominant, it makes whole sequences of the film sound like a trailer, and that can be really off putting. In fact, at times I started to drift off because not only was the music sounding like an ad, but the sequence on the film was actually advertising a product – Mac computers, and it is my automatic reaction from years of watching television to drift off during the ad breaks. It’s an interesting film, but not amazing. Perhaps to someone with more interest in the man, it would have been. But for me? Nup.

Steve Jobs was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Fasbender) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Kate Winslet).


X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Film Review


We’re back in the early days of X-Men. The really early days – there is a dude back in ancient Egypt who is a mutant, who rules as a god on earth and takes powers from other mutants. Luckily, there are some good guys who manage to trap him in the Earth for thousands of years. Unfortunately, he gets free and tries to take over. He’s always had four sidekicks, and this time is no different: he takes Angel (Ben Hardy ), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and our old favourite, Magneto (Michael Fassbender). So it is up to Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his guys to save the world.

For me, as someone who came to the X-Men films with no prior comic knowledge, this is all starting to get a bit confusing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. I love all the explosions and the craziness, and especially the powers, but I get a bit lost. Who is what? What powers do they have? Who is good and who is bad? And what’s the story with Magneto – after constantly being in these battle where he seems to (spoiler – I think?) change from the bad side to help the good, why does he keep being bad? What? I know I’ll keep watching these films and getting more and more confused, and I don’t really mind as long as they keep the special effects fancy and the costumes cool.


Inglourious Basterds (2009) Film Review


Imagine if you could go back to World War 2 and kill a whole heap of Nazis… how would you like to do it? How about get Brad Pitt to lead a bunch of Jewish soldiers as a small unit that sets out to kill them, striking fear into the heart of leadership, including Hitler himself. Now imagine you are a young Jewish girl whose family are slaughtered by the soldiers of one really nasty Nazi. And imagine you had the chance to get him and many other main Nazis… including Hitler himself. Now imagine all of that is directed by Quentin Tarantino. Yup, that is how excellent this film is.

It gets totally and utterly ridiculous at times; wonderfully, really. Funny and absurd. If you don’t like violence, it’s not going to be your cup of tea. But I would recommend watching the opening sequence – I think it is the best opening sequence of a film ever (although then there is Sexy Beast…) Christoph Waltz is utterly amazing in this role.

Inglourious Basterds won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Quentin Tarantino), Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.


X-Men : Days of Future Past (2014) Film Review


Do time travel storylines do your head in? Then this may not be the best film for you. Because I love time travel stuff, but I drifted off for a moment in this and suddenly was totally lost.

Essentially, it starts in a future where everything is a bit crap, with bad guys coming from everywhere and the X-Men can’t cope. So, somehow (mutant skills. Don’t question it), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sent back into the past to change history. And things get awesome.

There are all of the usual fighting and explosions and all of that stuff. Plus the older X-Men folks and the younger ones – we got them all. Really, if you are a fan of the X-Men films, I think you’ll like this. Be hard not to.

X-Men : Days of Future Past was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects


X-Men : First Class (2011) Film Review


It’s the early sixties, and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is starting to get quite vocal about his discoveries about mutants. Meanwhile, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender as the character who becomes Magneto) is seeking revenge on the Nazis, in particular Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who killed his mother. Then there is Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) who is trying to find her place in the world. Oh, but the world doesn’t really know about them. As they are revealed, people are scared.

Fun and exciting with cool characters who (mostly) I am really enjoying. I really love the depictions of the sixties, the styles and fashion and getting these parts of the characters’ backstories.


Hunger (2008) Film Review


Hunger is a dramatisation of the story of the last six weeks in the life of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), a Northern Irishman who led one of may protests against the British and Maggie Thatcher not recognising them as political prisoners. There was the blanket protest where the prisoners refused to wear the prison outfits and were left naked apart from a blanket and the no wash protest where prisoners refused to wash or have their hair trimmed or be shaved, and smeared their cells with their own excrement. And, finally, the hunger strikes that took the lives of Bobby Sands and eight other protestors.

Wow, this is a tough film to watch. Certainly the last twenty minutes or so, that follows the demise of Bobby Sands as he succumbs to the physical results of his hunger strike. But the rest is also tough; violent, graphic and just plain awful. It’s interesting that the film doesn’t talk about the issues of the protests in that much detail; there is no real discussion on ‘The Problems’, or why Maggie Thatcher was acting in the way she did, or even, really about why Bobby Sands did. It has left those judgments for the audience to make, for those who know little to investigate for themselves. What it looks at is the experience of being in prison for these men.

I think it is a wonderful film, moving and difficult and important.

A Dangerous Method (2011) Film Review


Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), a student and colleague of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) cures a patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) who then becomes both his student and his lover.

I don’t know how much of this story is true. What I do know is how much of the story is dull. Lots of very long conversations between the three main characters in various combinations. I felt as though it was possible that Keira Knightley may have been quite good in this performance, but I am so fed up with seeing her pouting and flouncing in so many other roles that I just can’t tell.

A Dangerous Method was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Viggo Mortensen)


Shame (2011) Film Review


Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a businessman living a lonely life – apart from the prostitutes. And the masturbation and porn. Then his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) turns up and he needs to change his behaviour somewhat. But she is also flawed. Life is tough for these siblings.

It’s slow and the characters are all really annoying and terrible, but I actually quite enjoyed it. While some parts were quite beautiful, much of it was pretty creepy, and not a lot was resolved. Yet, I still enjoyed it, although I’m not sure enjoyed is quite the right word.


12 Years a Slave (2013) Film Review

12 Years a Slave

Based on a true story, 12 Years a Slave tells the story of free man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who lives in New York with his wife and two children, making a living as a musician. When his wife and children are away, he takes a well-paying job in Washington only to find himself drugged and beat, and taken down south to be sold as a slave. His first owner, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a fair man (despite the whole owning slaves thing), but employs the cruel Tibeats (Paul Dano) who hates Northup for being smart and outspoken. After Northup stands up to Tibeats, Ford fears for his life, and sells him to the cruel drunkard Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Epps regularly beats and humiliates his slaves, although takes one of the young women, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) as his lover. It is not a spoiler to say that eventually he is Northup is freed – it is in the title after all.

It is an extremely good film made from difficult subject matter. It is appalling to think that slavery existed at all, much less that it was common for people to think of men and women (and children) of African heritage as lesser beings. Having said that, there is still slavery in the world. I haven’t come across a film that addresses slavery in modern times; I’d be interested to know if there has been one, and wonder if I have the stomach to watch it.

I found it interesting, however, that for a film with such intense subject matter and excellent acting, I was not greatly emotionally moved. I only cried a little at the end, yet this is surely the type of film that I would have expected to have me in floods of tears. Perhaps it was the weird couple who came into the almost empty cinema, very loudly, thirty minutes in, sat behind me still talking loudly, then the woman sent the man out for M&Ms (we all know because she shouted across the entire cinema as he left). I actually felt fearful of shhhing (they were really weird) and so I moved, but perhaps that whole thing put me off. Though, I think it was just that I did not get a huge chance to connect with Northup throughout. I disliked what was happening to him, but in a very detached manner.

Best Film Oscar? I’m nearly through all the 2014 nominations, and so far, yeah, I reckon it was. I still have Captain Phillips and Philomena, but of the bunch of them, this comes out ahead for me.

12 Years a Slave won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley) and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Fassbender), Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Production Design. It was also won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Drama and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Michael Fassbender), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Director – Motion Picture (Steve McQueen), Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (John Ridley) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. It won BAFTA Awards for Best Film and Best Leading Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and was nominated for Film Music, Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), Best cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design and Best Direction (Steve McQueen).

Prometheus (2012) Film Review


I recall when this came out earlier in the year, it was panned. Film Fandango, a podcast I listen to from Absolute Radio in the UK totally ripped into it, and listening to their discussion of the appallingness of the film totally put me off watching it. Plus, it’s not my genre – sci fi with some suspense. Most thrillers kill me. But, recently I decided to try to watch all of the films that have been nominated for Oscars – I’ve never done it before, and can’t explain why it matters to me this time, given that I hold little truck for the Oscars.

Prometheus is kind of a prequel to Alien. Set in some future world, a couple of archaeologists find evidence that humans were life forms created by an alien race. They are sent to a particular star system with a crew to try to meet these life forms and get answers. But, once on the planet, things turn awry. There are freaky snake creatures and the man archaeologist gets really sick so they burn him, but he comes back. Then the lady archeologist who had sex with the man archaeologist is now pregnant with some creature, so goes into a weird self-serve surgery capsule and has the creature removed, and after being stapled up, she’s well enough to continue running around the place. It’s totally absurd and annoying and weird.

The only thing more absurd than the plot of this film is the fact the Guy Pearce turns up with a crazy amount of make-up on to be the old man who is the founder of the company that owns the ship they are travelling in. Given his brilliant talent and the high standard of his usual films, this is a shock.

Prometheus was nominated for an Oscar for Visual Effects, and that’s fair enough. It might be a crap film, but it looked pretty awesome. It was also nominated for a BAFTA for Special Visual Effects.