Not a lot to say in the pre-amble to this week’s selection of titles. Should probably apologise for the negativity in advance because a lot of the below is dreck this week across any content provider apart from the occasional bright spot and a new Netflix exclusive. Hopefully you will be able to at least find something worth a look that floats your boat.

This week’s titles of note are as follows:


Gravity (2013)

There really isn’t anymore praise that I can heap on Alfonso Cuaron’s outer space thrill ride that hasn’t been heaped upon it already. Upon repeat viewing what impresses more and more is the technical marvel that this film represents with Gravity being a massive leap forward in the use of virtual sets as well as animation that looks like real people.

There are apparently whole entire scenes here featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney where they were never anywhere near a set and their face was the only thing recorded for a long stretch of the film. It’s only if you do your research that you become aware of these facts because watching the film you will have no idea as it’s so technically sound.

The other thing that impresses most is Sandra Bullock’s performance which tugs at the heart-strings as it moves between determination, regret and self-pity with the final ten or fifteen minutes being the most inspiring work she has ever done. After Children of Men I would have expected Cuaron to put something a bit more artful or surreal into this film but that doesn’t really happen apart from one odd moment which seems a bit out-of-place considering the rest of the film. Gravity is an astonishing film best viewed on the biggest screen in your house with the volume way up.

Available on Now TV

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Poster

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

Last weekend I watched Divergent and whilst I didn’t hate it, it really annoyed me. There seems to be a trend now for people to adapt their young adult book sensations word for word and beat for beat without any real understanding of how screenwriting works.

This was painfully obvious in Divergent and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones suffers from many of the same problems. The first forty-five minutes or so of this are actually quite good, it’s a completely derivative creation but it gets around it with nice visuals and pretty people. It’s after this in the second and final acts that it goes completely off the rails with a romance that just doesn’t work and the interesting plot just echoes the visual palette of everything from The Crow to I, Frankenstein.

Sometime along the last three years or so, they stopped casting performers and just went for pretty cardboard cut outs in the hopes of finding the new Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson and never has that been so evident than in this failed franchise. May entertain people under fifteen but that’s about it.

Available on Amazon Prime

Cabin Fever 3 Blu-ray

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2013)

After Eli Roth’s entertaining, uneven and wonderfully icky first film ten years ago we got Ti West’s underrated but nonetheless compromised sequel. After the second film there was talk of a reboot which this does to a certain extent, moving the action to a tropical paradise to expose the origins of the flesh-eating virus.

As is standard for straight to VOD horror nowadays you are introduced to a bunch of woeful actors on a trip to celebrate an engagement or something, immediately you don’t care but dependent on your love of this franchise you may just keep going anyway. If you do keep going and you are really into this sort of thing, then the good news is you get some of the most unpleasant and upsetting imagery seen in a straight to DVD horror film in recent memory.

The bad news is that as the film goes on it makes less and less sense, devolving into a scrap on the beach between two disintegrating women which goes on forever and seems like something from Troma’s current output rather than a once cinema bound franchise. It gets some things right but a majority wrong, not an out-and-out recommendation at all but some may love it and let’s leave it at that.

Available on Now TV


The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013)

So a couple of years ago a film came out which had a lot of people over a certain age falling all over themselves to praise it whilst everyone else kind of scratched their heads. That film was Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer which had a lot of people excited because it was a throwback to the Italian horror films of the 60’s and 70’s.

Their follow-up, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, treads a similar path and is initially very interesting with a very dreamlike atmosphere and a compelling plot reminiscent of The Vanishing crossed with early Roman Polanski. There are lots of jarring cuts to some bizarre S&M imagery but it keeps you interested with its bizarre characters and reveals.

Then around twenty minutes in, any semblance of plot goes completely out of the window in favour of non-sensical images, sounds and whatever Cattet and Forzani felt like shooting on set that day. There is occasionally something to be said for style over substance but you either direct a music video and get it all out of your system or you weld your style to a compelling narrative but this is just a complete waste of time.

I hated this film but if you are in your sixties and stay at home all day with a thing for leather that nobody else gets, then you may squeeze some enjoyment out of this. Otherwise this is a fine example of how much worse Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem could have been. Normal people should avoid this like the plague.

Available on Netflix


The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)

Remember last Halloween? Disappointing wasn’t it? This was the only horror release in cinemas and the title didn’t make any sense to start with. Luckily already Halloween 2014 promises to be much better considering what’s on the slate for October in cinemas, but in the meantime let’s have a look at this. Let’s pretend it’s not anything to do with the original film and the title is just ‘Ghosts of Georgia’. Katee Sackhoff is in this and she always has a radiant presence despite the schlock she is surrounded by, this also works in its favour. The plot is about the ghosts of tormented slaves haunting a young family’s new home, so it’s timely considering what’s been out in cinemas over the last two years to much acclaim. For much of its running time, Ghosts of Georgia is a solid but unremarkable watch which unnerves occasionally and thrills seldom but is well put together even if it is like an above average TV movie of the week. Like its cinema release, if there is nothing else on then this will just about do.

Available on Netflix

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (3)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Director Timur Bekmambetov is one of the best visual stylists currently working in film. After the Night/Day Watch films he came to Hollywood and made Wanted, nothing like the comic but visually fascinating nonetheless.

Then it was time for his follow-up which was this book adaptation, a book that is kind of a joke but a book that actually sold well anyway so of course their had to be a film. He has a whole bunch of projects in development but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter seems to have silenced Bekmambetov’s career for now. The problem with this film is in its highlights reel nature, really only being a feature-length kind of montage of the best moment s of Lincoln’s life with vampires thrown in as and when instead of telling one story with suitable (if you’ll excuse the pun) stakes.

Despite this Bekmambetov gives the ludicrous film a certain weight even if Benjamin Walker doesn’t have the necessary presence to do Lincoln justice. Sadly as well a lot of Bekmambetov’s lunatic visuals are absent apart from one scene involving a cow. Not a bad waste of two hours but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter feels like a missed opportunity.

Available on Amazon Prime.


Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The first in Guy Richie’s reboot/reinvention of Baker Street’s most famous sleuth is probably the better of the two films. The reason for this is it’s the only one to get the balance between action and mystery almost perfectly right.

The sequel favours action all the way and wastes Moriarty as a villain too. These films have been kind of overshadowed now due to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman but for a brief moment this was a brilliant, bold and likeable franchise starter. Robert Downey Jr is perfect as Holmes and Jude Law is as good here as he has ever been. Despite the box office success of this and the moderate success of its sequel, there doesn’t appear to be a third film on the horizon which is really a shame.

Available on Amazon Prime

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Although Being John Malkovich and Her are personally more in my sweet spot, the Spike Jonze film that I have had the biggest response to is this underrated adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book from 2009.

At 30 pages, Where the Wild Things Are the book has a very basic message about kids messing around but there really isn’t any room for pathos, nuance and subtext and any of this would likely go over the heads of the under-fives anyway. So in the film Jonze captures something very special, he perfectly encapsulates what it is like to be a kid so well it borders on supernatural. That feeling you had when you would be with your friends or cousins or something at a party or gathering and would tear around using your imaginations in a way that wasn’t familiar with things like logic, reason and plot. It’s all here and depending on how much you have grown up and put these things aside, it will either make you reject the film outright or sob like a baby the whole way through.

I’m in the latter camp, upon first viewing the film just affected me in such a way that I was moved and thrilled in equal measure and it took a while to go back to it because it was such an overwhelming experience. From this description you may think that Where the Wild Things Are is an exercise in whimsy and pretension but it does have a very clear arc for the main protagonist Max. Come the final scenes there can be no doubt that lessons have been learned and accepted and childish things have been put away but it’s just the first in the whole series of lessons that is life.  Where the Wild Things Are is one of the best films of the last decade and is that rarest of commodities, a film aimed at kids that doesn’t treat them like idiots and an art film all at the same time.

Available on Amazon Prime


There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Casting my mind back to this film and its release and subsequent success, I think it kick started gross out comedy which quickly wore out its welcome but I’m pretty sure you could credit the Farrelly brothers with the current Apatow style of comedy and all those guys’ careers too. This is because There’s Something About Mary is actually very long for a comedy, at just shy of two hours which was unheard of at the time. This also has the ensemble cast of characters and sweetness amongst the bawdy comedy which is always present and correct in anything Judd Apatow or Seth Rogen put their name on. It’s been a long time since I have seen this film and after this the Farrelly’s had a hard time recapturing their formula so I am keen to watch it again.

Available on Now TV



BoJack Horseman (2014)

Netflix’s new and original animated comedy feels very much like something MTV would have produced in the mid-nineties. In an alternate world where humanoid animals live alongside regular humans BoJack Horseman is a washed up actor from 90s sitcom Horsin Around and we follow his attempts to climb back on top in a world of debauched Hollywood excess.

The animation is very early Mike Judge but the show plays out like an animated version of Californication with more of an eye on satirising our mean-spirited celebrity obsessed culture. Although it doesn’t always hit its targets, there is a takedown of Britney Spears/Lindsay Lohan which is dead on. I’m only four episodes in right now but despite the odd moment, BoJack Horseman isn’t as consistently laugh out loud funny as many of the great animation currently on TV and frequently misses the chance for a really great gag.

Having said that from the opening credits onwards, there is something very likeable about BoJack Horseman and I am still going to finish the whole series within the next week. It could still be a case of something finding its feet and so could well end up essential stuff.

Available on Netflix


Available this week for a fee on demand:


Transcendence (2014)

Wally Pfister’s directorial debut was the first casualty of summer blockbuster season with critics pounding on it mercilessly and audiences staying away in droves. Despite the all-round sense of disappointment, Transcendence did have its defenders, most notably with Mark Kermode saying it got by on the strength of its ideas alone.

The trailers certainly did promise something fairly unique even if it might not have made sense in relation to accepted laws of physics. Will this rise like a phoenix as a misunderstood would be blockbuster Blade Runner style? It’s doubtful but I suspect it’s an interesting failure rather than just a failure.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/ FilmFlex/ Blinkbox


Locke (2013)

This single location thriller had a lot of critical praise upon release in April and sounded like a car set version of Buried with another great performance from Tom Hardy. There again I have heard from actual real people not paid to watch these kinds of things who outright hated it and rejected the film completely.

The premise has Tom Hardy travelling on a motorway between Birmingham and London and wrestling with a complex moral conundrum of some kind. Whether this can be stretched out successfully to an hour and twenty-five minutes is open for discussion but Eastern Promises/Hummingbird writer and director Steven Knight is a man of considerable talent so it’s more than likely he pulls it off.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/ Filmflex/ Blinkbox


Mindscape (2013)

Once upon a time, Mindscape would have placed high on my personal most anticipated films list. Curiously if you go on the IMDB and read the two plots synopsis on there, then one justifies this excitement and the other really does not.

So in summary; Mark Strong plays a memory detective who enters a troubled girl’s memories to work out whether she is just troubled or something more. It’s part The Cell and part Inception and opinions range from ‘meh’ to ‘already underrated’!

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Filmflex/ Blinkbox


Tarzan (2014)

Considering the reception and box office for this new outing for Edgar Rice Burrough’s most famous creation, David Yates’ Alexander Skarsgard starring big budget live action Tarzan must look like the most risky film in production currently out there.

Regardless of the popularity of the source material, this version directed by Reinhard Klooss is motion capture animated with Kellan Lutz rather than live action and everything about it seems quite low rent and cheap. People also really didn’t like it, especially the way in which they tried to update Tarzan to make it more current, which just doesn’t work.

Available on EE/Film4OD/Virgin Movies/Filmflex/ Blinkbox