Director: Sofia Coppola
Runtime: 90 minutes
Sofia Coppola brings us The Bling Ring, a movie based on true events from 2008-2010. Better known for movies such as Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring is another movie that Coppola can add to her list of good movies.
In The Bling Ring, a group of fame obsessed teenagers take on the task of breaking into celebrities’ homes and stealing their belongings, namely clothes and accessories. They use the internet to track the celebrity’s whereabouts, making sure they would not be at home.
Katie Chang plays Rebecca, who along with Marc (Israel Broussard), are the first two to start the ball rolling. The ringleaders if you will. They are soon joined by Emma Watson (who shot to stardom as Hermione from Harry Potter) as Nicki and Taissa Farmiga (better known to most from the first and third seasons of American Horror Story) as Sam. Shortly after they had started the burglaries, the four are joined by Chloe (Claire Julien) and Emily (Georgia Rock) making their band of merry men (or terrible teenagers) complete.
I love a crime movie, or a heist movie. They hold even higher standings with me if they are 1) based on a true story, and 2) really well made. I thought that Coppola did an amazing job with The Bling Ring. It was everything I expected it to be and more. I found the story interesting, and the acting was superb. Considering a relatively young cast, they all did a really good job.
The best performances came from Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga as far as I was concerned. They both managed to steal the screen every time they were on, and the two of them were only members of the group, they weren’t the movies protagonists.
I know the story was true, but I would still feel the same about this movie even if it wasn’t. I actually enjoyed the story; I found it to be fun and interesting. There was enough going on to keep me going throughout its entire length.
*** SPOILERS BELOW THIS POINT, PLEASE READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK ***
Director: Patrick Dinhut
Runtime: 114 minutes
A group of modern day tourists are lured into a deadly game in an alternate universe. In this alternate universe, every bedtime story you were ever told at night is real.
Black Forest is a movie made for TV release, there is no information available to determine whether it was ever released into cinemas.
Patrick Dinhut is the director of Black Forest. Previous work for Dinhut has included a 2006 TV movie, Dead & Deader.
The cast in this movie included Tinsel Korey, Dhaffer L’Abidine, Andy Clemence, Oliver James, Lally Percy, Sapphire Elia, Howard Charles, Ben Gross, Tobias Hewitt, Jesse Steele, Sarah Brown, Mike Straub, Velizar Binev and Evelina Popova.
I really enjoyed the idea behind this movie. The story was exceedingly interesting; the thought of fairy tale’s being real always makes for an interesting watch. I just felt that execution was poor.
I don’t understand why this movie has a science fiction tag under the genre, as they really wasn’t any science fiction stream to it at all. The fantasy tag is probably the most relevant, as the movie also falls short of being a horror movie. The intent to be scary is there, yet the movie is decidedly lacking on that front.
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Runtime: 131 minutes
Giuseppe Tornatore brings us La Migliore Offerta. When shown on UK TV, it was titled "Deception" and also known as "The Best Offer". No matter which title we go with here, the movie was still fantastic. Easily one of my favourite movies of 2013. Tornatore has directed many movies before this one.
A well educated auctioneer falls for the charms of a 27 year old mystery woman, seemingly clearing out her parents house following their deaths.
Virgil Oldman, the auctioneer, is played by Geoffrey Rush (known for various movies including House on Haunted Hill and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl). His performance is outstanding. The majority of the movie is focused on him and he does an excellent job of carrying it along.
Jim Sturgess (21 and Heartless) plays Robert. He befriends and gives advice to Oldman. Playing a secondary part to Rush's character, Sturgess gives us a really sincere performance.
Donald Sutherland (no introduction need for this great) plays Virgil's 'assistant' Billy Whistler. Helping the auctioneer purchase antique items of really high value, without anyone knowing it was him buying them.
Sylvia Hoeks plays the part of the 'mystery woman'. For the first half of the movie, we only hear her voice.
Mentions go out to Philip Jackson and Dermot Crowley for their performances in the movie.
If you are a fan of heist style movies, then I would recommend this one. What I would say is that there is no action in this movie. It is definitely a crime drama. The mystery element is excellent. I didn't manage to work out what the twist was.
Director: Todor Chapkanov
Runtime: 90 minutes
Vampyre Nation is the UK title of True Bloodthirst. Shown in the UK on SyFy channel, this is probably one of those movies that everyone overlooks because its on SyFy. How wrong those people are. I found this movie highly enjoyable.
Vampyre Nation is set in the not too distant future in Romania. Due to a synthetic blood that has been created, Vampires and Humans are finally able to co-exist. Slowly, more and more vampires are appearing, and the human population diminishing.
Andrew Lee Potts (from Syfy's Alice) plays Harker, a vampire hunter. He and a fellow hunter are in prison, when the Romanian government call upon him and his team for assistance against a new strain of vampire. One that kills both humans and vampires. I loved the character of Harker, I found him to arrogant yet confident. Potts managed to pull off the character perfectly. The only issue I would have was that Potts had some difficulty in keeping the required accent throughout the movie. I found that his original british accent kept slipping back in places. It wasn't that bad, that it put me off the movie though.
Neil Jackson (from various TV programs) played the government official, Derricks. He was the one who enlisted the help of Harker and his team. Jackson put on a good show too.
The director Todor Chapkanov has directed a number of TV movies before releasing this one. My main concern with this movie is the change of titles. Not only was it given a different title in nearly every country it was released in, but the title was changed quite a few times before they settled on this one.
Director: John R Leonetti
Runtime: 99 minutes
Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring. Annabelle the doll appears in The Conjuring, and this movie tells her back story.
First of all, can I say, I was disappointed with The Conjuring because I thought it was about Annabelle and it wasn't. She was featured in it, but the movie did not centre around her. I was super excited when I heard about this movie being made as I thought we were going to get the real deal. However, read on to see how I felt about this movie.
Annabelle is a rag doll in real life, yet in The Conjuring they decided to use a porcelain doll. Presumably this was done to make her look more scary. Whilst I see the point, I prefer, if a true event is being used, that they use the real details.
I have included this movie under a category called "True Events" purely because the doll is real. Yet, after some investigating (which I cant help doing if a movie is based on something true), I found out that the entire movie fabricated. The reason it was fabricated was to put some back story behind the doll, and explain how she became possessed. In actual truth, the real story only starts when Donna's mother bought her from an antique shop and gave her to Donna (as we see at the very end of the movie, and also at the start of both this and The Conjuring).
Onto the acting, Annabelle Wallis (X-Men First Class and Body of Lies) and Ward Horton (from various TV shows) play Mia and John, the young couple who are in possession of Annabelle. Tony Amendola (known for Blow and Mask of Zorro to mention a couple) plays the priest called in to help Mia and John. All three of these performances, in my opinion, where middle of the road. I wouldn't say they were awful, but I also wouldn't go out of my way to commend any of them for how they did.
The only performance that I feel deserves any credit would be Alfre Woodward (from K-Pax and Primal Fear) as Evelyn. She plays a neighbour of Mia and John, who develops a relationship with Mia and tries to help her with the situation. Her performance was rather good. She was definitely the only one who stood out for me.
I know that James Wan was one of the producers on this movie, however, I really feel that if he had directed it, it would have been a much better movie. Leonetti has previously directed Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2. In my opinion, those two sequels are awful movies, and I just feel that the Annabelle story deserved so much better.
Director: Wally Pfister
Runtime: 119 minutes
Another directional debut (I think this is the third one I've written in a week or just over), this time from Wally Pfister. Prior to this, Pfister has always worked on the cinematography side of a movie (he has worked on Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy, and anyone who has seen those, knows that the effects and cinematography play a big part in making those movies what they are).
Johnny Depp, one of my favourite actors, plays Will Caster. A leading scientist in the field of Artifical Intelligence. Between him and his 'life partner' Evelyn Caster (played by Rebecca Hall, known for The Prestige) they run one of the top AI companies in the country. When Will dies, his mind and being is uploaded to a main frame.
Transcendence was an awful movie in my opinion. I felt that whilst the idea was good, it just was not executed very well at all. The only thing I could say was that it got a bit better towards the end, but it was too late by then.
Director: Robert Stromberg
Runtime: 97 minutes
Robert Stromberg has previously worked the visual effects for masterpieces such as Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire (to name a couple), Maleficent is his first directing adventure.
Angelina Jolie (a household name by now that anybody who has ever watched movies has heard of, known for many movies including Salt, Mr & Mrs Smith (where she met her husband) and Wanted) plays Maleficent, the wicked fairy from Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent shows the story from her point of view. Jolie did a fantastic job in this movie, and this is probably my number one Jolie movie as of now. I also want to offer credit to Isabelle Molloy and Ella Purnell, for both playing younger versions of Maleficent. Without these younger versions to show the back story, this movie would have been dead in the water.
Sharlto Copley (star of District 9 and Elysium) was really good as King Stefan. The love of maleficent's life. I'm a fan of Copley, just due to his accent, although his acting repertoire contains some top notch movies.
Elle Fanning (from Ginger & Rosa and We Bought a Zoo) played Aurora, or as the less seasoned fairytale reader may know her, Sleeping Beauty. Fanning's performance was also rather good to watch, I was surprised by how well she did as I don't know a great deal about her from other movies.
The chemistry between Aurora and Maleficent was really convincing. Maleficent does care really. This movie was really well portrayed, I loved how it showed the relationship developing between the two main characters, Jolie and Fanning. I was pleased that it showed the 'wicked fairy' to not be so wicked after all.
My favourite characters in this movie were definitely the three good fairies, played by Lesley Manville (Flittle), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass) and Juno Temple (Thistletwit).
Having seen Temple put on an excellent performance in Magic, Magic this was a completely different role to my previous knowledge about her as an actor. She has proved to me that she probably can play anything and/or anyone.
Imelda Staunton's character amused me, purely because I am so used to thinking of her as Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter.
Finally, the character of Diaval (played by Sam Riley - Byzantium) was an interesting take on Maleficent's 'crow' or I suppose he could be looked at as similar to a witches familiar.
All in all my final verdict on this movie would be that it was really well put together and presented in a fashion that could be watched and understood by both children and adults alike. This is definitely a movie I would watch with my children when they are a bit older.
Director: Steven R Monroe
Runtime: 85 minutes
End of the World is a TV movie made for Syfy channel. Directed by Steven R Monroe, this comes after the release of two of his other movies, "I Spit On Your Grave" (2010) and "House of 9".
A group of apocalyptic fanatics use their knowledge of apocalyptic movies to save the world from a devastating disaster.
Greg Gunberg (from Heroes fame), Neil Grayslon (A Town Called Eureka), Caroline Cave (Saw 6), Mark Hildreth (Resurrection & V) and Brad Dourif (Dune, Pulse & Blue Velvet to name a few) all star in End of the World.
For a TV movie, I found this rather entertaining. I was pleasantly pleased with how good it turned out to be.
The acting wasn't spectacular and the story wasn't very believable, but that doesn't always matter to me. The most important thing for me with a movie like this is that it is fun. Which this movie definitely is.
Director: Jeremy Lovering
Runtime: 85 minutes
Jeremy Lovering's directorial debut, In Fear, is a British horror/thriller set in the countryside of Northern Ireland. A young couple, Tom and Lucy, have only been together for two weeks. They are on their way to join some friends at a music festival when Tom announces he has booked a hotel for the night as a surprise. Things start to go wrong on their way to the hotel as they get lost, and strange things start to happen.
Lucy, played by Alice Englert (better known to me from Beautiful Creatures, and also starred in Ginger & Rosa) was excellent in this movie. I found her presence to be entertaining, in that she managed to execute each scene perfectly. In an interview with The Telegraph, Englert admitted that filming the scenes for In Fear left her feeling a little distraught. She was quoted as saying "When the director said “cut” I started sobbing and sobbing and sobbing,’ Englert says. ‘It got a little bit too real. I was so distraught."
Tom, played by Iain De Caestecker (Known for Coronation Street and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) also put on a convincing performance as the male protagonist. He didn't stand out as much as Englert, I felt she really stole the movie to be fair.
Allen Leech (since appearing in In Fear, he has been in The Imitation Game and Downton Abbey) played Max, the movie's antagonist. Leech only came into the movie about half way through it, but his character portrayal was amazing. He gave the impression that he really was a deranged psychopath. Hats off to Leech for this movie.
The first half of the movie, is excellent. The low budget isn't an issue at all, as most of it is set on rural country roads. The ending had so much potential, but didn't cut the mustard for me. I felt like I was left without a definitive answer as to 'why'. Anyone that knows me and my movie tastes will know that I either need the ending to be hidden, so I have to go back and look for it or completely obvious to see. I have no time for movies that don't seem to come together with some sort of explanation. Apart from that fact, it was a relatively good movie.
Director: Peter Chan
Runtime: 115 minutes
Dragon (or Wu Xia as it was previously known) is a crime drama with some martial arts thrown in for good measure. A paper maker gets involved with a murder case with two criminals, and is suspected by a determined detective.
Generally, I tend to watch foreign horrors and thrillers, and try to stay clear of martial arts films. In this case, as part of Film Club - The Game, Dragon was the pick of the week by Gareth over at Movie Geek.
I actually enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I found the mystery aspect of the movie quite interesting, and apart from a twenty minute section near the end, I felt that it worked really well. I did find, around the fifty minute mark, that my interest waned slightly.
I can't comment on the actors as I am not familiar with any of them, however, the performances were really good. Donnie Yen (who I believe is rather big in the movie business) was excellent as the main character, Liu Jin-Xi. I also really rated the performance from Takeshi Kaneshiro, who played the determined detective.