Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My Top 5 Halloween Movies

Put out those pumpkins, prepare for mass knocks at your door and stick on those horror movie,s Halloween is back for yet another year! As is standard for this time of year, recommendations and top 5/10 lists regarding the horror genre appear on many a website, and I'm no different. 
Here are my top 5 horror movies of all time.

5. The Omen - Kids have always been a huge part in the horror genre and this little bugger ranks among some of the best. Damien is a character forever present in the annals of horror history in what is a scary-as-hell movie. Couple the devil's son with the superb performances from Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, and The Omen excels to greatness.

4. Trick 'r Treat - Michael Doguherty's Trick 'r Treat is an ode to Halloween stories. Featuring an all-star cast, the film's interwoven stories are a concoction of conventional scary tales with a neat twist. From Anna Paquin's coming-of-age sub-plot to Brian Cox's miserable house dweller being terrorised by the pumpkin-headed Sam, the film delivers on every level.

3. The Evil Dead - Hilarious, outrageous and filled with over-the-top violence, The Evil Dead continues to live its own legacy amongst horror's elite. Any film that can still make you jump at the same point every time or continue to wince as utensils thrash through body parts after all these years deserves great credit.

2. The Thing - John Carpenter's The Thing is a work of horror magic. Claustrophobic, tension-filled and stunning visually, even to this day, it continued the director's reign as a master of horror. Featuring one of the best uses of creature make-up of any film and an engaging and heart-pounding premise the film eases into second place for me.

1. Halloween - Sharing its name with the official horror season, Halloween will forever remain my favourite movie of the genre. Setting the benchmark for slasher films, it is simply the blueprint for others to follow and true testament to John Carpenter and Debra Hill's genius. Creating a horror icon, an unforgettably simple yet oh so effective score, and pure terror, Halloween remains the top choice for any Halloween film marathon. 

Don't agree with my choices? Post your top 5 in the comments box below, I would love to hear your choices!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My LFF 2012 Highlights

London Film Festival has finally waved its last goodbye for yet another year and although it will fill many people with sadness, one can be assured that an abundance of positives came out of the festival film-wise. 

As my first proper film festival, LFF was a sheer joy for me to attend when it was possible and I was lucky enough to experience no less than 13 films in 6 days in London. Among those were an eclectic mix of foreign cinema, heartwarming love stories, some rather tough watches and a spellbinding film that rocketed to the pinnacle of my current top ten of the year. 

Here are my Top Five films I saw whilst at LFF.

1. Rust and Bone - Sublime, emotional and utterly breathtaking, Rust and Bone is a spectacle of foreign cinema that captivates from start to finish. Perfect performances, cinematography and direction throughout.

2. Robot and Frank - Moving and funny in equal measure, Robot and Frank produces a breathless performance from veteran Frank Langella and impressive vocal work from Peter Sarsgaard.

3. After Lucia - A Mexican film with plenty of clout that will have audiences affected with some disturbing imagery, After Lucia is a powerful and affecting affair. Tessa Ia excels in a challenging lead role.

4. Compliance - Yet another tough watch due to its subject matter, Compliance is a tense encounter that cranks up a notch with every passing moment. Despite its 'based on a true story' tag, the film shocks with a true-to-life depiction that is often unbelievable to the human eye.

5. Sightseers - The follow-up to Ben Wheatley's memorable Kill List is a hilarious affair. Fronted by two superlative leads, Sightseers blends dark humour with horror to create a laugh-a-minute outing that proves Britain still possesses unique talents in the film industry. 

Make sure you check out the above films and I'm sure others will have plenty of other recommendations of films they saw - Argo and End Of Watch two films I have heard way too many good things about to miss when released. 

Seek out these films when you can and feel free to leave your comments on my choices of the festival. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

An Ode To Rust And Bone

It fills me with absolute delight that Rust And Bone has been awarded with Best Film at this year's London Film Festival. Not only was it head and shoulders the standout film I personally saw over the time I participated in the festival but it was the first film in such a long time that stayed with me, constantly reminding me of how exceptional it really is.

I must admit, despite my love for cinema, foreign movies were never quite my foray and, whilst I dabbled in more well known foreign outings such as City Of God, The Raid and Let The Right One In, my viewing of overseas releases was somewhat of a poor show. Little did I know that I was missing out on a bulk of cinema that is clearly unmissable and fortunately one film changed my perspective forever.

Rust and Bone truly astounded me with its performances, a strong and affecting story and direction that has seen it peak at my current favourite for 2012 by a long distance. Having never seen A Prophet, my knowledge of Jacques Audiard's work was minimal and my only experience of the sublime Marion Cotillard came in the form of her American efforts as well as her much publicised Oscar winner La Vie En Rosé. Truth be told, I didn't know what to expect when entering the screening for the film.

To say the viewing experience was astounding may even be an understatement as, despite two viewers' insistence on sexualising the screening for the audience, I came out absolutely beaming at the sight of what I had just witnessed (film-wise that is people!)

To pinpoint just one factor in the film's success would be a crime in itself. Rust and Bone is subliminal filmmaking at its finest and perfectly warranted my first five-star rating of the year. With Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts performing to levels that truly astound, the film possessed two leading characters who will be hard to match this year in providing emotion, angst and audience connection. Their differing characters not only proving that opposites attract but also presenting two difficult life scenarios that collide to create a breathtaking spectacle in story-telling.

Driven by beautiful cinematography, unbelievable performances and a powerful story, Rust and Bone has infinitely changed my stance on foreign cinema. Immediately after watching the film I discussed with friends what films I have been missing out on and my Lovefilm list is now abundant in foreign cinema gems I have been recommended. Not only has the film solidified my interest in more diverse films but I also fully appreciate the fact that films such as these with minimal budgets are often those that astound and prove that low-budget foreign films offer some of the greatest viewing experiences known to man.

Rust and Bone truly is a remarkable beautiful film and sits at the pinnacle of my favourite films of 2012. I urge you all to seek this gem out upon its release on 2nd November.

Cinema Review - Ruby Sparks

Romantic comedies can often become tedious and repetitive as we witness the birth of love between a couple, enjoy their ups, gasp as their relationship tumbles and rejoice as all is forgiven in a reconciliation and a happy ending. We all know the conventional rom-com formula these days and it takes something diverse to make one stand up and take notice. I give you exhibit A - Ruby Sparks.

Calvin (Paul Dano) is a young man struggling with writer's block. Despite constant visits to his psychiatrist (Elliott Gould), he cannot quite find something to write about - that is until he continues to dream about a particular woman who takes his breath away. His imaginary girlfriend, Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), is the woman who is about to change his life. As he begins to write about Ruby, Calvin feels he is on to a winner and then the impossible becomes possible, she becomes an actual person and is part of his real life. 

Ruby Sparks' premise is one that already provokes an immediate positive reaction in that it represents something different in a romantic comedy. Almost a hybrid of the Weird Science variety, the film presents to the viewer the idea of creating the perfect woman and brilliantly merges it with real life situation. 

In Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (in real life also a couple), Ruby Sparks oozes with perfectly timed humour and a tenderness that will warm even the coldest of hearts. The pair are infinitely lovable and drive the film on along with Kazan's genius script. Throw in the likes of veterans Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and the hugely underrated Chris Messina into the mix, and the film excels to much more than just a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy.

With plenty of heart, twists and turns, and acting talent that infuse laughter and wonderment through every minute, Ruby Sparks is a beautiful film worthy of being held in high regard among some of the best films of the year. 

Film Rating - 4 out of 5 F's

Cinema Review - Skyfall

Friday 26th October is the date that sees the return of James Bond in Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third outing as 007, and undoubtedly his best and possibly THE best Bond film of the franchise's illustrious 50-year history.

This time under the reigns of director Sam Mendes, Bond tackles his toughest mission yet as he faces up against a figure from M (Judi Dench)'s past, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a cyber terrorist who manages to infiltrate MI6 and proves a constant hindrance for the British government. 

As Bond tracks Silva across the likes of Shanghai and our very own London, the villain leaves a trail of death and destruction in his wake as the past of M comes back to truly haunt her and push her relationship with Bond to the limit.

In bringing the esteemed talents of Sam Mendes to the Bond universe, the franchise has found a new lease of life which results in Skyfall being one of, if not the, best James Bond film in its superb 50 year history. A gripping and pulsating sequence of events, the film is as action-packed as it has ever been and a true testament to how a Bond film should be made.

Eliminating the disappointing memories of Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall puts rights to all the wrongs in the previous outing with unmatched action sequences, superb characters and a truly unmissable story. Craig is at his best as 007, Dench, in a meatier role, excels in providing a great spark with the leading man and a vulnerability to her own character, and Bardem produces one of the most memorable and diverse Bond villains in years. 

An exceptional outing to celebrate 50 years of Bond, Skyfall delivers in aces with stunning cinematography, slick dialogue and direction of the highest quality. Coupled with a stunning cast and beautiful locations, it is the Bond film to kick-start the franchise once again after a rough few years on the ropes.

Film rating: 4 (4.5 if we did half ratings!!)

Friday, 5 October 2012

My Pick Of Bond

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Britain's biggest on-screen spy, James Bond, I thought no better way than to list my top five favourite Bond films, as well as the order in which I rank the different portrayals of 007. 

Agree or disagree with my views, let me know!

My Top Five James Bond films
1. Goldeneye
2. Casino Royale
3. Licence To Kill
4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5. The Spy Who Loved Me

My Order Of Best Bonds
1. Daniel Craig
2. Sean Connery
3. Timothy Dalton
4. Roger Moore
5. George Lazenby

No doubt my views will bring about debate and as I said, I would love to get your views on both my opinion and your own.

Enjoy Global James Bond day and don't forget ALL the Bond films are now available on Sky Movies!