This Christmas Everyone Will Believe In Santa Claus

Jalmari Helander

Jorma Tommila
Onni Tommila
Peeter Jakobi
Rauno Juvonen
Per Christian Ellefsen

I love the darker side of fairy tales, just as I love the darker side of Christmas stories. Before many pagan traditions were Christianised, they were bleak moral tales often with horrific outcomes. The few Christmas stories I recall – Black Peter, Krampus and the Yule Goat come to mind – portray Father Christmas (or Santa Claus for my American readers) as a twisted individual who actually punished the ‘naughty children’ rather than simply not giving them presents. Rare Exports reminds us of this long forgotten adage in a thoroughly enjoyable and original Christmas story.

Set in the surrounding areas of the Finnish Korvatunturi mountains twenty-odd days before Christmas, an excavation team are drilling for something hidden beneath the mountain. After curious samples come back, the team leader, Riley [Ellefsen], explains they are standing on one of the oldest and most significant burial grounds in the world. Overhearing this, young Pietari [O. Tommila] and his miscreant friend Jusso [Ilmari Järvenpää] hurry back to their homes, through a hole cut in the Russian border fence. Three weeks later, a group of hunters begin laying traps for wolves that have been stalking their reindeer and discover the hole in the fence; with their livestock slaughtered the trio head up the mountain to demand reparations. The dig site is deserted and all that remains is a cavernous hole. The next day (Christmas Day), young Pietari and his father, Rauno [J. Tommila], discover something in one of the wolf traps. Believing the man dead, Rauno and fellow hunter Piiparinen [Juvonen], move an old man’s body to a personal abattoir. There they discover that not only is he alive but there is something distinctly inhuman about him. From here on it is assumed that the excavation team were digging up the original – and rather evil – Santa Claus. Still intent on claiming compensation for their losses, the hunters contact Riley and make their demands.

The plot detailed above is pretty much summed up in the trailers but the actual execution of the story is far richer. In addition to the central thread, there’s a keen analysis of the prickly relationship between a boy and his stern father (cemented by the fact that there is not one single female character) and an underlying warning against forgetting ones’ heritage and traditions. All of which is sold by the extremely impressive performances, beautiful cinematography and superbly unabashed score by Juri Seppä. I don’t really want to reveal one of the major plot devices but it’s one of those semi-twists that really elevate the proceedings. Sure, the supporting characters aren’t as multi-layered as one might wish and the child protagonist is a little unbelievably confident at times but it’s all rather commonplace in other Christmas stories, so why fault this one for it? Then there’s the male nudity: I can’t really get into it too much without giving away a great deal but there is an excessive amount of old man whang toward the movie’s finale. Most audience members were mature enough to ignore it and simply see the creepy elements at play but there were still a handful of prats guffawing away, pointing and yowling like a group of fucking children who have spotted an amusingly shaped turnip in their local supermarket.

But overall, the originality of the story outweighs any glaring flaws or cliché elements. Had this film been presented slightly differently it would have been a disaster but with so many sinister components at work, it’s hard to bash something both entertaining and truly singular. For those sick and tired of the usual Christmas fare and US seasonal ‘comedies’ (a word used in the most tenuous sense) Rare Exports is an eerie, clever and welcome treat.

Release Date:
3rd December 2010

The Scene To Look Out For:
I think rather than a particular scene, the overall mythology driving the story is the true highlight. The opening notion that the contemporary idolising of Santa Claus is a misconstrued interpretation of a truly horrific character, responsible for whipping, burning and abducting children is wonderfully explored. Especially when combined with the classic flow of a classic kid’s adventure film. Having said that, putting the bear trap in the chimney was pretty funny.

Notable Characters:
The hunters are all quite standard, you have the leader, the mean one and the funny one but the two individuals who drew focus the most were Onni Tommila as the inquisitive, affable and wholly endearing Pietari and Peeter Jakobi as the extraordinarily creepy captive Santa. Spending the majority of his time stripped naked and huddled up, he absolutely personifies this terrifying old man. I can’t talk too much about either without ruining the film but both actors have helped to produce something incredibly praiseworthy.

Highlighted Quote:
“This is my wife’s hairdryer!”

In A Few Words:
“A delightfully dark and twisted tale, not to mention one of the most entertaining and original Christmas films to be released in a long, long time”

Total Score:



All Are Expendable

Anton Corbijn

George Clooney
Thekla Reuten
Paolo Bonacelli
Violante Placido

This is Anton Corbijn’s second release and he’s certainly proving himself to be a formidable independent talent. Before we get started with the review, I need to quickly make mention of how this film was horrifically misrepresented by the studio. What is a very clever and morose glimpse into a lonely existence was plastered as a Bourne film starring George Clooney. The truth is, it couldn’t be further from it, in essence it’s closer to In Bruges, minus the humour.

Largely based on the novel by Martin Booth, The American is the story of a contract killer, Edward (or possibly Jack) [Clooney] forced to execute his lover and flee Sweden after being targeted by rival hitmen. In desperation, he makes his way to Rome but is then sent on to the very small village of Castelvecchio by his employer. Unhappy with the location, he dumps the map and mobile phone and makes his way to the nearby town of Castel del Monte. Whilst lying low, he is instructed to construct a custom rifle for assassin, Mathilde [Reuten]. With such a small population, the townsfolk cannot help but recognise the out-of-towner; in particular, an old priest, Father Benedetto [Bonacelli], who shares several meaningful chats with the reclusive hitman. During his time gathering parts and building the weapon, Edward mostly keeps to himself. The only individual he seems to have contact with, bar the priest, is a prostitute named Clara [Placido]. Having completed the rifle, taken the time to fully analyse his life and formed a connection with Clara, Edward decides this will be his final job; having announced as much to his employer, he awaits payment and delivers the rifle.

Many will claim this film to be a slow, European tale focusing on subdued performances and restrained emotion. If anything, this is the opposite of European cinema and feels more indicative of a Japanese drama by Yasujiro Ozu – I’m not saying it’s anywhere near that level of timeless genius but it’s certainly impressive. Beautifully shot, well-paced (despite what impatient audiences may say), expertly directed and masterfully led by Clooney’s performance. What’s more, at no point does Corbijn feel the need to pander to the audience, he presents what he feels is necessary and reveals only what he chooses. No elaborate payoff and no epic showdown, just a perfectly fitting, utterly tense finale. All of which is accompanied and accented by the subtle and often beautiful score by Herbert Grönemeyer.

Naturally, this film is far from perfect and there are a few niggling points – bar the stupidity and immaturity of global audiences, who need formulaic hits in order to a,) understand and b.) enjoy a film; fucking plebs. The real problems stem from the Clara character. I wholly understand her purpose, I understand that she represents a mirrored soul for Edward, an undesirable suddenly overcome with the desire to leave behind the gutter from which they found each other. That’s grand, I get that. But I didn’t feel any chemistry between the two characters other than she was a booby Italian girl and he was . . well . . George Clooney. I’m not trying to undervalue the work that either actor did, I just didn’t feel there was a great deal of chemistry between the two characters nor was there enough time to fully explore it. That and the tiny historic town of Castel del Monte even having such a bordello is a little obscure.

All-in-all, I believe this film will pan at the cinema and perform averagely at the box office. Through no fault of the film, simply for the fact that audiences are far too impatient and childish to actually see the true merits of a film of this nature. Sure, it will have its audience and there will be those who see it for the marvellous work that it is but that won’t stop it from floundering awkwardly through the box office charts before finding well deserved success on DVD / Blu-Ray. Which, ultimately, is a shame.

Release Date:
26th November 2010

The Scene To Look Out For:
I recently received an email for moaning about a sex scene or nudity or something but I’m going to do it again. This film has about two sex scenes – largely to establish the nature of Clara’s work – but also to illustrate a connection between her and Edward. The first time is rather tasteful, an undressing followed by a fade to black but the second time felt out of place. I understood what Corbijn was doing (keeping it non-gratuitous) but the whole thing felt a little too extended and not entirely necessary. Had there been more of a connection between Edward and Clara outside of the brothel, I may have been happier with it but the relationship just felt lust-based and temporary. But that’s not why I’m highlighting it. I’m bringing it to your attention because throughout the entire thing I was scrunching up my face and wincing in the dark, try to figure out if he was performing anal sex. I know, I’ve rambled about immaturity and blah blah but it bothered me. I needed to know – still do. Primarily because I don’t see the significance and if it’s just normal sex . . . why did I think it wasn’t? Hmm . . . interesting. No? Well, fuck it.

Notable Characters:
**Spoiler from the second sentence onward — just so you know**
The supporting cast really do a wonderful job but this is another opportunity for Clooney to really show off and demonstrate that he is an incredibly capable actor and when associated with the right project, able to produce something both tender and haunting. Of all the standout moments, nervous darting glares and prolonged silences, it’s the slamming of the steering wheel that got me. I’ll assume you’ve seen the film and spare you the complete rundown but Edward is driving to meet Clara having taken care of the last loose ends, only to discover a pain. As he reaches to his side, he notices traces of blood and as shock fades, frustration takes over and he pounds the steering wheel. The rest of the drive focuses on Edward’s face, desperately concentrating and clinging on as long as possible. The whole thing demonstrates how a truly gifted actor doesn’t need to bounce off the walls like Nicolas Cage in order to convey sheer despair.

Highlighted Quote:
“You cannot deny the existence of hell; you live in it. It is a place without love”

In A Few Words:
“Deep, thoughtful and beautifully shot, The American is a contemporary rarity that relies upon subtlety and underlying tension over the standard spy-thriller pulp”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #35

[21 November 2010]

Winning Team:
Our Afternoons With Margarhitas

Genre – Le sequel de l’hangover – in French with English subtitles

Runners Up:
Genre – 80s hipster product placement flick
The League Of Extraordinary Watchmen: Part V
Genre – Harrowing tale of Victorian clock-makers
Bill Odie And The Deathly Swallows
Genre – 18 year old Bill Odie embarks on a journey in search of himself and an army of child eating birds

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the lead character in Donnie Darko?
2. Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) was filmed in which country? [bonus point for correctly translating the title]
FRANCE [Children Of Paradise]
3. What kind of twins play the character of Julian in Big Daddy? Siamese or Identical?
4. What is the first rule of Fight Club?
5. What was Mary Poppins’ occupation?
6. Graham Chapman portrays which English king in Monty Python & The Holy Grail?
7. What type of animal is Flower in Bambi?
8. What genre does The Searchers belong to? Comedy? Musical? Western?
9. Stage Beauty tells the story of the first female what?
10. What is the title of the 2005 film featuring Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter?
11. According to Pulp Fiction, what is a Quarter-Pounder known as in Europe?
12. Poster Tagline Part I: Which movie features the poster tagline ‘The creators of Jaws and Star Wars now bring you the ultimate hero in the ultimate adventure’?

ROUND II: Filming [Alan Moore Adaptations Special]
1. Alan Moore cinematic adaptations are adapted from what? Poems? Comics? Musicals?
2. Which Alan Moore adaptation starred Jason Flemyng, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend, and Sean Connery?
3. From Hell is set in what year?
4. Which character is the first to die in Watchmen?
5. What was the first Alan Moore adaptation to not feature his name?
6. Who plays Chas in Constantine?
7. After Fox thought the title was too lengthy, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen was shortened to what?
8. What is the name of the breakfast that V prepares for Evie in V For Vendetta?
9. What is the time difference between the theatrical and director’s cut of Watchmen?
10. Which religious artefact is uncovered at the start of Constantine?
SPEAR OF DESTINY (also accept Holy Lance)
11. What is the last line of From Hell?
12. Both Sean Connery and director, Stephen Norrington hated working on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemenso much that neither have worked on a film since. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Excluding the upcoming Love Ranch (released Jan 2011), how many years have passed since Joe Pesci’s last film? [bonus point for naming the title]
FOUR [The Good Shepherd – 2006]
2. The alien (and main villain) in Stargate assumed the identity of which ancient Egyptian god?
3. Other than the Harry Potter series, how many feature films has Daniel Radcliffe starred in?
TWO (The Taylor Of Panama and December Boys)
4. How are the vampire hunting brothers, Edgar and Alan (played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) known as in The Lost Boys? [bonus points for naming the titles of the straight-to-dvd sequels]
THE FROG BROTHERS [The Tribe / The Thirst]
5. Poster Tagline Part II: His passion captivated a woman, his courage inspired a nation, his heart defied a king?
6. How many films to date have won the Best Picture Oscar despite not receiving a Best Director nomination?
THREE (Wings 1927, Grand Hotel 1932, Driving Miss Daisy 1989)
7. Errol Flynn co-starred with Olivia de Havilland in eight films. What were their titles? (one point per correct title)
8. How many films has Sylvester Stallone directed?
EIGHT (Paradise Alley / Rocky II / Rocky III / Staying Alive / Rocky IV / Rocky Balboa / Rambo / The Expendables)
9. According to the film, what year did the Event Horizon disappear?
10. What typographical symbol appears before the title Batteries Not Included?
11. “Keep the change, you filthy animal” was the final quote from fictitious film Angels With Filthy Souls in Home Alone. What was the last line in the sequel in Home Alone 2?
12. What was the name of Jane Russell’s character in Howard Hughes’ controversial western, The Outlaw? (one point for each name)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which country is the majority of Goodbye, Lenin set? East Germany? West Germany? Federal Republic of Germany?
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY (which is what West Germany was called in the first place)
2. A Cock And Bull Story is based on the novel by which author? Wilkie Collins? Laurence Sterne? Anthony Trollope?
3. Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible is cut in reverse chronological order, how many distinct scenes does it comprise of? 10? 13? 16?
4. Which of the following has not portrayed Charlie Chaplin on film? Eddie Izzard? Robert Downey Jnr.? Jim Carey?
JIM CAREY (Izzard-2002 The Cat’s Meow / Downey-1992 Chaplin)
5. In what year was The Dam Busters released? 1950? 1952? 1954?
6. Who directed the 1991 remake of Cape Fear? Brian De Palma? Martin Scorsese? Frank Marshall? [bonus points for naming the two lead actors in the 1962 original]
MARTIN SCORSESE [Gregory Peck / Robert Mitchum]
7. What is the last line the Howard Hughes repeats at the end of The Aviator? We’ll remember in future? The way of the future? Look ahead to the future?
8. What relic is Lara Croft searching for in Tomb Raider? Apple Of Eden? Triangle Of Light? Cradle Of Life?
9. Driving Miss Daisy won four of its nine Oscar nominations. Which of the following was one of the winners? Best Actor? Best Costume Design? Best Makeup?
BEST MAKEUP (also Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay)
10. What is the name of the costume shop in Eyes Wide Shut? Golden Fashions? Tempting Fashions? Rainbow Fashions?
11. Poster Tagline Part III: The scariest comedy of all time? Airplane? Young Frankenstein? Beetlejuice?
12. One particular scene of James Cagney being shot at in The Public Enemy was achieved by hiring a marksman with a live Tommy gun to shoot the bricks next to his head. True or False?


It All Ends Here

David Yates

Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson

Always worth mentioning at the start of these reviews, just to inform anyone who doesn’t know – I greatly enjoy these films but have absolutely no allegiance whatsoever to the original source material. I was working in a book shop when the fourth-to-final books were released and subsequently couldn’t be bothered to read them. Never have, never will. Some feel this alters my perception of the film but I believe it allows me to offer a complete and unbiased opinion of how the movie works as a standalone piece and not as an adaptation of some coveted relic. It also means that if I have any issue following the film or wondering about certain cryptic characters or events, I can assume it was fully explained in the book and the film has simply failed to replicate it. All good? Lovely.

At this stage, I would think nobody is going to approach the final two-parter of the Harry Potter saga without prior knowledge of the series, thankfully Warner Bros. seem to share this belief and as such there will be no pandering to newcomers this late in the game; if you don’t get it by now, tough. So, the wizarding world is now fully aware of Lord Voldemort’s [Ralph Fiennes]return and he is amassing an army of support, solely intent on locating and eradicating young Mr. Potter. Harry [Radcliffe], Ron [Grint] and Hermione [Watson] have discovered that the only way to defeat Voldemort is to destroy the seven horcruxes, which contain parts of his shattered soul. With no real knowledge of where these will be or what they even are, the task is extremely daunting. At the same time, Severus Snape [Alan Rickman] has been revealed as a loyal death eater and gathers with the other dark wizards at the Malfoy residence to discuss how to deal with Potter. After an attack during the marriage of Bill Weasley to Fleur Delacour, the three leads quickly vacate and begin their hunt. Their only clue (the fake necklace from the last film) leads them to the Ministry Of Magic, which then starts an epic camping trip. Even the most loyal supporter of the books will acknowledge that for the most part, the opening of Deathly Hallows is a long, drawn out, camping expedition. Curiously enough, this seems to have been dealt with expertly as the search for the horcruxes is never one which lags or hinders the plot flow of the film. Several truths are revealed, tensions erupt between Harry, Ron and Hermione, the deathly hallows are explained and preparations are made for an almighty finale.

The most notable (and probably due to be most commented on) points are that this film is much darker and more mature than any offering to date – a statement that has been included in each of my Potter reviews, I’m sure. Not just maturity of plot but also the cast; as the characters grew, so too did the plot; quickly shed were the twee Christmas Carol wannabe ways of the first film and the mild bullying of the second film, we’re now well and truly into territory that has been mentioned but never really realised until the last film: these children are facing truly terrifying and overwhelming adversaries that are thoroughly intent on torturing and killing them. With the level of emotion required, it’s a delightful relief to see that everyone involved has outgrown their childhood acting quirks and forced lines and are now displaying a genuinely impressive level of acting prowess. Indeed, this entire film is almost free of complaint, the money has been better utilised, hence better visual effects, every single cameo and supporting character is brilliant, the pacing is amazingly well dealt with for a story that should have been slow and tedious and the soundtrack is at its absolute best.

There are, naturally, a few negative points that need to be addressed – as minor as they are. The first is the Ginny Weasley [Bonnie Wright] / Harry Potter love connection that I simply did not buy in the last film. I don’t know why but I don’t feel any chemistry between the two actors and it all felt so wonderfully forced. There’s very little of it seen here and it’s certainly less tense and more plausible but the only way to really show it successfully was to undercut it with humour – in the form of George Weasley [Oliver Phelps] quietly entering the scene before offering a slow, drawn out, “Morning”. And then there’s the fact that his is half a book, not a two-part finale designed for film (think Matrix, Back To The Future, etc) but one story split down the middle. This means that the cliff-hanger is reasonably weak and as the credits begin to roll a distinct notion of mild shock ripples through the audience. I understand and fully agree that halving the story allows for a more loyal following of the events in the book and this should have been actioned from the fourth film onward but without an epic close point, audiences may be left a little disillusioned. But as stated, these are very minor complaints to what is an altogether, extremely well crafted half of a film.

I will close with a brief explanation on how I have decided to score this movie. Rather than going for the full blown nine out of ten that it probably deserves, I feel it would be like marking the merits of the first act and part of the second. Instead, a wholly warranted eight has been awarded and if David Yates can maintain the intensity, emotion and overall tension that has been building throughout this release, I should think we will all be in for a marvellous treat next summer.

Release Date:
19th November 2010

The Scene To Look Out For:
Two scenes in particular come to mind. The first requires Hermione to blurt out a great deal of exposition in the form of a children’s story, explaining what the deathly hallows are. This piece is presented as a rather well executred animated segment – granted Hellboy II: The Golden Army did it better but it was certainly a welcome treat. The second is Harry, Ron and Hermione infiltrating the Ministry Of Magic. From the Nazi-esque interrogations and propaganda posters, to the random spurts of humour regarding the body-swaps, the whole thing is done rather well. What makes it particularly stand out, however, is the charged climax and escape, largely due to Peter Mullan’s brief but incredible performance.

Notable Characters:
As stated above, of the cameo roles, Peter Mullan does a great job as the death eater, Yaxley. But a word needs to be said about Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones). I fucking hated Dobby in Chamber Of Secrets . . I mean, I really loathed that son of a bitch. With the likes of Gollum appearing in The Two Towers, I was horrified to see this pitiful CG excuse of ears and wrinkles masquerading as a character. He wasn’t funny, he was just really really really fucking annoying. So, when he reappeared in this film, I was instantly impressed by the fact that he looked genuinely impressive. Furthermore (I have no idea how), they managed to not only make him funny and appealing but also an incredibly welcome highlight to the plot proceedings.

Highlighted Quote:
“I think we should close his eyes, don’t you? There, now he could be sleeping”

In A Few Words:
“One of the best Potter offerings to date, only held down by the fact that this feels very much like half a film – which, ultimately, it is”

Total Score:



1 Million Tons Of Steel. 100,000 Lives At Risk. 100 Minutes To Impact.

Tony Scott

Denzel Washington
Chris Pine
Rosario Dawson

Very loosely inspired by true events in 2001, Unstoppable is your standard action thriller about a run-away freight train and the two railroad employees who make a daring attempt to stop the locomotive before it crashes in a highly populated area. So.. this is basically Speed on a train. To give Tony Scott credit, he does a pretty decent job of maintaining continual levels of tension and entertainment, only problem is, the film is about a run-away train, it’s not exactly treading new ground.

Starting off relatively slowly, Unstoppable introduces us to young conductor, Will [Pine], who in addition to being fresh out of training, is also experiencing messy legal proceedings, restraining him from seeing his wife and son. For his first practical assignment, he is paired up with twenty eight year railroad veteran, Frank Barnes [Washington]. Frank is your typical working-stiff, with two teenage daughters and about three weeks left before he is forced into early retirement. So, right away, you should be able to tell the kind of obvious character dynamic that’s going to take place here. After a series of sloppy mistakes, perpetrated by Ethan Suplee and T.J. Miller, a half-mile long freight train hauling some eight-or-so carriages of hazardous materials suddenly bolts off at seventy miles per hour toward the city of Stanton. Having cleared the track of oncoming trains, the executives try to avoid a PR nightmare by ignoring local signal controller, Connie Hooper [Dawson], whose initial suggestion of derailing the train is scoffed for being far too expensive. After several failed attempts, Will and Frank attempt to catch up to the train, hook onto it and slow it down. To be honest, it’s an incredibly simple premise, that should be a more than sufficient plot description.

Tony Scott is quite a difficult director to predict; at times he can produce extremely engrossing and captivating movies and other times he utilises the exact same techniques (usually saturated colours, quick erratic camera movements, etc) and comes up flat. From the very get-go, Scott employs several low close-ups of locomotives to instil a sense of size and power, an act further achieved by smashing the speeding train through a handful of obstacles to keep the audience engrossed. Sure, he still uses his blurry fades that make it difficult to tell exactly what’s going on but for some reason it works extremely well here. Furthermore, the soundtrack’s use of heavy riffing guitars and rising strings – if a little close to Tyler Bate’s score for 300 at times – fit the onscreen action. As with the majority of Scott’s flicks over the last ten years, his use of Denzel Washington pays off; if the worst comes to the worst and the film is a fucking mess, at least Denzel will produce a praiseworthy performance and carry the whole thing through to the end. Unstoppable is no different, Mr. Washington provides another steady contribution, as do Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson.

In any case, the whole story is fairly stupid, affording several opportunities for the oh-so-bankable ‘Woah, did you see that!?’ moments that American studios wet themselves over. But the action isn’t the problem – with Scott, it rarely is – the problem is the story itself. Although advertised as ‘inspired by true events’ the only real similarities are a runaway train and slowing a runaway train with another train, the rest seems largely fictitious. As such, Will and Frank’s subplots are not only incredibly weak but also disgracefully handled. Frank is a workaholic dad who misses his daughter’s birthday, big fucking whoop; the man’s getting laid off, he’ll have plenty of time to see his kids when he’s redundant. Will’s story, however, is a little under thought. Married with a young son, Will comes home one night and upon enquiring who is wife is texting, she refuses to tell him. He goes to snatch the phone and ‘scares her’. Presuming she’s having some sort of affair with an old college buddy (who happens to be a policeman) he picks the guy up, drives him to the middle of nowhere, puts a gun on the dashboard and tells him to stay away from his wife. Unbelievably stupid but that’s fine. My problem isn’t that, my problem is the resolve – which seems to come about solely because she happens to see him on TV. I’m not going to spoil anything but drawing a subplot of that nature to a close by saying, “You’re so brave, come here you” is a tad irresponsible and fucking lazy writing.

As stated above, despite the incredibly straight-forward story and glaringly obvious plot flaws, Scott manages to produce a fairly decent film. I wouldn’t say I’d have the urge to watch it again but I was certainly entertained throughout. Certainly worth a watch if you’re looking for a simple action adrenaline hit.

Release Date:
26th November 2010

The Scene To Look Out For:
Being a 20th Century Fox film, it was increasingly amusing to see the live news coverage segments hosted by the Fox network; in an attempt to add further realism by sporting their own logo, they actually manage to parody themselves. Every five seconds, as if the audience wasn’t aware, a Fox News report would flash up and shout THE DAMAGE WOULD BE CATASTROPHIC! and THE BIGGEST DISASTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.. EVER! They might as well have said, FUCK ME! TRAIN! THERE’S A FUCKING TRAIN! TRAIN GO BOOOOOM! NO MORE STUFF!

Notable Characters:
Sure, Washington, Pine, Dawson and Kevin Dunn did a reasonable job but I wouldn’t say any of the characters were really notable for any reason. I could be cocky and moan about how the train is filmed like some heartless monster, rampaging through small-town America.. but I can’t be bothered. Instead, I’ll highlight Lew Temple as Ned the.. well.. I’m not sure exactly what the hell he was. He was just some Southern guy with a pony-tail and a truck who drove around shouting. So, there you go. Ned the train chasing guy, I’ll highlight him.

Highlighted Quote:
“Don’t get all sentimental on me, makes me think I’m going to die”

In A Few Words:
“Once again Tony Scott bashes out a mediocre film and prays that the inclusion of Denzel Washington will allow him to recreate the amazing Man On Fire – suffice to say, it doesn’t”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #34

[07 November 2010]

Winning Team:
The Team With No Name

Genre – Harrowingly sparse endeavour

Runners Up:
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Retirement Party (Woah!)
Genre – Geriatric comedy
Not Knowing
Genre – Disappointing Sci-Fi
The Anti-Social Network
Genre – Michael Cera stars as an ASBO riddled student, outcasting himself from his fraternity
One Flew Over Wymondham
Genre – A study into the mental dissolutions of those involved in making a local film festival

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. The upcoming film, Tron: Legacy is the follow up to which film?
2. What is the name of the adaptation of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder?
3. What is the name of the sequel to 28 Days Later?
4. In The Seventh Seal, what colour chess pieces does Death play with?
5. City Lights, The Kid and The Great Dictator are films by which silent movie star?
6. West Side Story is set in which US city?
7. Hot Shots is largely a parody of which film?
8. What army were the Spartans attempting to fight off in 300?
9. Who directed Spartacus?
10. The quotes, “Help me, help you” “You had me at hello” and “Show me the money” are from which film?
11. The title character in V For Vendetta wears a mask resembling whom?
12. What nationality is director, James Cameron?

ROUND II: Filming [Jack Nicholson Special]
1. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown” is a quote from which Nicholson film?
2. In As Good As It Gets, Melvin Udall is asked to take care of his neighbour’s pet whilst in hospital. What type of animal is the pet in question?
3. How many times has Jack Nicholson played a President? (bonus points for naming the film/s)
ONCE (Mars Attacks!)
4. During One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy tries to get votes from the other inmates to put on the TV and watch what sport?
5. Which three actresses conjure up Nicholson’s character in The Witches Of Eastwick? (one point per correct answer)
6. What is Nathan Jessop’s rank in A Few Good Men?
7. What was the name of Jack Nicholson’s character in Easy Rider?
8. What drink does Jack Torrance order from Lloyd the bartender in The Shining?
9. What is the title of the 1981 Warren Beatty directed film that Jack Nicholson appeared in?
10. Which of Nicholson’s characters did he claim to be “the ultimate incarnation of evil”?
11. When Batman was first released it broke the record box office gross (opening weekend) set the week before by which film?
12. Nicholson’s character in Terms Of Endearment did not feature in the original novel and was offered to Burt Reynolds, James Garner and Harrison Ford before eventually going to Nicholson. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What are the subtitles of the three Ice Age sequels? (one point per correct answer)
2. When casting for Edward Scissorhands, Burton wanted to use Cry Baby’s Johnny Depp but Fox pushed him to audition which actor?
3. 2005’s Sin City is divided into four stories, what are their individual titles? (one point per correct answer)
4. Almost all of Patton was shot in which European country?
5. What prop was given to Barbara Stanwyck to emphasise her character’s ‘sleazy phoniness’ in Double Indemnity?
6. What is English Bob’s (Richard Harris) nickname in Unforgiven?
7. Excluding Tim Burton’s remake and next year’s prequel, how many Planet Of The Apes films have been produced? Five? Six? Seven?
FIVE (POTA / Beneath The POTA / Escape From The POTA / Conquest Of The POTA / Battle For The POTA)
8. There are four instances of colour being used in Schindler’s List, other than the opening and closing scenes, what two objects are colourised? (one point per correct answer)
9. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind are ones of actual contact; what are the first two? (one point per correct answer)
SIGHTING A UFO / PHYSICAL EVIDENCE (as stated by the theatrical release posters)
10. How many years pass between the release of A Fish Called Wanda and its pseudo-sequel Fierce Creatures?
11. The gold in The Lavender Hill Mob is disguised as paperweights in the shape of what?
12. Which actor narrates A.I. Artificial Intelligence?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following phrases is not tattooed on Leonard in Memento? Everyone Lies? Memory Is Treachery? Time Still Passes?
2. What’s the name of Ben Wade’s pistol in 3:10 To Yuma? Widow Maker? Hand Of God? Lightning?
3. Which opera does Capone attend after ordering the hit on Malone in The Untouchables? La Traviata? Pagliacci? Don Giovanni?
4. Which Los Angeles gang is Doughboy affiliated with in Boyz N The Hood? Crenshaw Mafia (Bloods)? Rollin’ 60s (Crips)? Neither?
5. What is the name of the Mars Administrator in Total Recall? Cohaagen? Richter? Quaid?
6. During the editing stage of Cleopatra, Fox fired the director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz). Why was he rehired? There was no shooting script, Mankiewicz was the only one who knew how the story went? Elizabeth Taylor demanded he be reinstated? It would have been more expensive to employ a new director?
7. What beverage does Daniel Plainview use to describe drainage to Eli in There Will Be Blood? Milkshake? Beer? Coffee?
8. Which of the following products did not feature as product placements in Blade Runner? Atari? Budweiser? Levi’s?
9. Predator is set in which Central American country? Nicaragua? Guatemala? Panama?
10. Which of the following is not a Gruber brother in the Die Hard series? Simon? Hans? Karl?
11. What type of miners are Billy’s father and brother in Billy Elliot? Coal? Iron Ore? Oil?
12. Frances McDormand was actually pregnant during the filming of Fargo. True or False?


Leave Your Comfort Zone

Todd Phillips

Robert Downey Jnr.
Zach Galifianakis
Michelle Monaghan
Jamie Foxx
Juliette Lewis

Both Old School and The Hangover were immature but greatly amusing comedic releases. As such, a reasonably high bar was placed for director Todd Phillips’ next release. Due Date is it. And it’s disappointing. Not only disappointing but a meandering waste of time. Around ten minutes into the plot I grew frustrated, the characters were predictable, the humour was sporadic at best and the actual narrative was wholly fruitless. After another ten minutes or so, I turned to my girlfriend and muttered, “This is just Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” And then I sank into my seat. I sank deep into that seat and I waited for the film to end.

The very opening scene gets the sole plot drive out of the way, Peter Highman [Downey Jnr.] is an expectant father currently in Atlanta, Georgia on business, returning home (Los Angeles) for the birth of his first child. Robert Downey Jnr. plays the part well but there’s very little to him: he’s wealthy and successful, therefore out of touch; he has anger management issues, which simply means he lashes out for no reason; and he generally does not seem to enjoy the company of others. Bar the first point, I can greatly empathise but he’s just a very flat individual.. but I digress. Following our introduction to Peter, we are then shown the innocent, haphazard and wholly incompetent Ethan Chase (who goes by his stage name, Ethan Tremblay), played by Zach Galifianakis. Like the majority of Americans, he’s well mannered and nice enough but incredibly dim and under the delusion that anyone he comes across may be interested in his thoughts and opinions. Oh, and Ethan is accompanied by a small dog… named Sonny. Don’t ask why. So after our two characters bump into one another a few times, a misunderstanding leads to both of them being kicked off the plane and being put on a ‘no fly’ list. However, without wallet or ID (both of which are flying to LA), Peter is forced to drive cross-country with Ethan. And thus begins a tale of friendship through the Southern states with ridiculous circumstances and hilarious consequences. Or that’s what those involved were hoping for, what we get is a WASTE OF MY TIME!

The reason Due Date fails so completely can be summed up in two succinct points. First, it wasn’t funny. It was meant to be funny but it wasn’t. There were a few amusing situations that were predominantly sold on the lead performances but that’s about it. Second, Planes, Trains and Automobiles was better.. and I don’t mean somewhat funnier, I mean that film is fucking brilliant. Phillips makes all the mistakes present in his previous outings (namely those found in Road Trip and Starsky & Hutch), placing stupid drug-centred scenarios, awkward run-in’s with hicks and random cameos above actual jokes and humorous predicaments.

It’s not all negative though, it could be far worse. Sure, it’s a standard road-trip comedy but at least the gross-out humour is kept to a reasonable minimum and there is a distinct effort to achieve some level of humanity and character development – not to mention the fact that this is possibly the first comedy to come out of the States that doesn’t feature several scenes with young naked women (I can’t believe I just praised a film for lack of female nudity . . . I’m such an old fart). For example, of all the ludicrous setups, Ethan dealing with the loss of his father and disposing of the ashes (that he’s carrying around in a coffee can) is dealt with relatively well. On top of that, the music optioned was pleasantly fitting and Christophe Beck’s subtle score is greatly appreciated.

So, all-in-all, a rather disappointing, lacklustre affair with a few laughs but ultimately a solid helping of ‘who gives a shit?’ I wouldn’t be surprised if this film does rather well but give it a few months, no one will remember it.

Release Date:
5th November 2010

The Scene To Look Out For:
The first real demonstration of Peter’s inability to control his aggressive mood swings takes place while Ethan is securing some marijuana. Sitting with two young kids, you’d think this would be a good time for the father-to-be to learn how to bond with children.. you would be wrong. After suffering a few irritating questions and a snake toy to the face, Peter buries his fist in one of the kid’s stomach (which is a poncy way of saying he punched him in the gut). Sure, curiously amusing but never really resolved and a little disconcerting – the whole development simply felt a tad out-of-place. Same thing could be said of the ‘spit on the dog’ scene that seems to have outraged the usual loud-mouth idiots.

Notable Characters:
Despite the fact that Galifianakis’ character is an extension of the one in The Hangover, he is afforded a few moments of real acting prowess, granted they’re buried under layers of bumbling but it’s a glimpse at impressive potential. Most notably, Peter decides to toy with Ethan in a public toilet (yes, I realise how that sounds) by claiming he will never make it as an actor because he simply cannot act. In an attempt to prove this, Peter conjures up a handful of scenarios that Ethan awkwardly ad-libs through, only to break down in tears, confessing he doesn’t want to be alone. In lesser hands the whole thing would have been a disaster.

Highlighted Quote:
“I have ninety friends on Facebook .. three are pending but I have ninety friends”

In A Few Words:
“Partly amusing in places but far too flawed to be truly noteworthy”

Total Score: