Cinema City Film Quiz #40

[30 January 2011]

Winning Team:
In Hogsmeade

Genre – Mad-Eye Moody has to ‘take out’ an Auror after an accidental muggle death

Runners Up:
Chocolate & Children
Genre – Belgian
Iron Bruges
Genre – A smuggling movie about the illegal export of Irn Bru from Belgium
Kickin’ Midgets
Genre – Martial arts documentary starring Colin Farrell
In Cruise
Genre – Hit-men are shrunk down so they can kill the scientology in Tom Cruise
The Wise (guy) Bloods
Genre – Gothic southern gangstah

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. In which correctional facility is Escape From Alcatraz set?
2. Who directed Jaws, Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park?
3. What type of animal is the lead character in Ratatouille?
4. What is the subtitle of the third Die Hard film?
5. Who played the lead role in Uncle Buck?
6. What was the title of the first Indiana Jones film?
7. How many Police Academy movies were made?
8. What does Tony Montana famously shout before firing his weapon at the end of Scarface?
9. Who directed Bad Boys?
10. The English Patient is set during which military conflict?
11. The Ghostbusters headquarters is set up in what type of disused building?
12. How does Nick Marshall gain the ability to hear what women are thinking, in What Women Want?

ROUND II: Filming [In Bruges Special]
1. In which country is In Bruges set?
2. Which actor portrays Ray and Ken’s boss, Harry Waters?
3. What is the name of the girl that Ray (Farrell) pursues?
4. How long are Ray and Ken supposed to be hiding out in Bruges?
5. Both Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson were nominated for the same Golden Globe award for their respective performances, which one won?
6. How does Ray describe sight-seeing?
7 How many time is fuck and its derivatives used throughout the film? (point goes to the closest answer)
8 Who composed the score for In Bruges?
9. What is the name of the Hieronymus Bosch painting that Ray and Ken discuss?
10. What three things were written on the boy’s confessional card? (one point per correct answer)
11. What film noir is Ken watching when Harry calls him and instructs him to assassinate Ray?
12. Excluding the flashback, Ray never changes his clothes. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Who directed Amadeus?
2. What were the names of the two characters played by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator?
3. Fight Club: while Marla and Jack are fighting in the street, they pass a cinema showing which Brad Pitt film?
4. What is the name of the toy factory in the 1992 Barry Levinson film, Toys?
5. During Jay’s interview in Men In Black, he shoots a cardboard cut-out of a little girl. What is her name?
6. Who cameos as the judge for the ‘walk-off’ in Zoolander?
7. Ben Affleck has played two superheroes (one Marvel and one DC) throughout his career. Name them both.
DAREDEVIL (2003) / SUPERMAN (Hollywoodland 2006)
8. The following quote features in which Evil Dead film? “Soon, all of you will be like me.. and then who will lock you up in a cellar?”
9. Who narrated Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events? [bonus point for naming how many locations were used]
JUDE LAW [none, everything was filmed on a sound stage]
10. What was the name of Humphrey Bogart’s only Western?
11. Peter O’Toole has been nominated for an academy award eight times without winning. Which film was his last nomination?
12. What is the name of the metropolis in which Mystery Men is set?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which actress played the role of Frenchy in Grease? Jamie Donnelly? Didi Conn? Dinah Manoff?
2. Which academy award category was retired most recently? Best dance direction? Best assistant director? Best original musical/comedy score?
BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL/COMEDY SCORE (1995-1999, the other two were retired in 1937)
3. The Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon was released in 1941, what year was the original made? 1930? 1931? 1932?
4. 1942’s In Which We Serve focuses on the undertakings of which ship? HMS Walsh? HMS Torrin? HMS Catton? [bonus point for naming the two individuals who co-directed the piece]
HMS TORRIN [David Lean / Noel Coward]
5. What does private eye, Mike Hammer, offer the gym/club attendant when he refuses a bribe, in Kiss Me Deadly? His watch? 20 year old whiskey? A slap?
6. The following quote is from which Ealing comedy? “It is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms.” The Ladykillers? Meet Mr. Lucifer? Kind Hearts And Coronets?
7. Excluding Game Of Death II (which used stock footage), how many films did Bruce Lee appear in? Four? Six? Eight? [bonus points for each named]
SIX [Marlowe, The Big Boss, Fist Of Fury, Way Of The Dragon, Enter The Dragon, Game Of Death]
8. Which song does not feature in The King And I? Getting To Know You? I Whistle A Happy Tune? Many A New Day? [bonus point for naming the origin of the rogue song]
MANY A NEW DAY [Oklahoma!]
9. Which of the following was the top grossing silent film in the United States? The Big Parade? The Birth Of A Nation? Ben Hur?
10. Who played the uncredited role of Jacob’s son, Gabe, in Jacob’s Ladder? Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Leonardo DiCaprio? Macaulay Culkin?
11. What is the last shot of The Godfather: Part II? Michael sitting by himself as everyone goes to greet Vito? Michael sitting by himself in the Lake Tahoe compound? Vito leaving Corleone by train with his young family?
12. Many films made between 1930 and 1968 were required to often film extra footage to ensure the story ended with the classic adage ‘crime doesn’t pay’ as adhering to the Motion Picture Production Code (or Hays Code); most of which has since been discarded. True or False?
TRUE (endings that were considered ambiguous or imply the bad guy got away required additional footage)


Breakfast TV Just Got Interesting

Roger Michell

Rachel McAdams
Diane Keaton
Harrison Ford
Patrick Wilson

Becky Fuller [McAdams] is a young workaholic producer for a small morning TV show broadcast in New Jersey. Within minutes, we learn that Becky has no real life to speak of and that her subsequent firing results in a major loss of identity. Thankfully, persistently bugging every network in town is the best way to score an interview; on top of that, being as irritatingly over-the-top as possible in the interview itself – despite being under-qualified and inexperienced within a large corporation – is a sure-fire way to guarantee a job. So, Becky moves to New York (as most of you know, I instantly award any film set in New York one point) and realises that ‘Daybreak’ is a sinking ship. Intent on making real change, Becky instantly fires the male anchor and goes about investigating every potential candidate contracted to IBS — IBS is the name of the network that employs her, which is quite fitting as IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: the uncontrollable production of slurries of excrement. Becky discovers that acclaimed newsreader, Mike Pomeroy [Ford] is currently inactive but still on the payroll; as such, she explains that he is contractually obligated to accept her offer. The tension between current anchor, Colleen Peck [Keaton] and the stern Pomeroy is called on time-and-again, as is his general disdain for the quirky gimmicks of morning television. Despite the new arrival, the ratings are still plummeting and it’s up to Becky to save the show. But how can she do all that, while playing nanny to the cranky cast, scraping ratings, juggling obligations and attempting a relationship with the tall, strapping young man working in . . . wherever the fuck he works? It’s like Ally Mc-fucking-Beal all over again.

There are some very strong positive elements present that make the entire ordeal completely tolerable, namely the performances. The supporting cast are fairly solid, Keaton offers a refreshingly amusing performance, as does John Pankow as Lenny, the father-like mentor, Matt Mallory as the comical weatherman and Rachel McAdams somehow finds the energy to portray the attention deficit Becky (but more on that in my highlighted character section, below). Then there’s Harrison Ford, who seems perfectly cast as the cranky, aging professional, Mike Pomeroy. However, there was something missing, something I couldn’t quite place until Ford delivered his “I’ve won countless awards, I’m respected, I’ve laid a washcloth on Mother Theresa’s head” speech – this is Harrison Ford we’re talking about. Can you even name a film he’s been in over the last decade or two that wasn’t Indiana Jones? What the hell does he know about integrity? Ooooooh scathing.

The film’s second forte is the continual rivalry between entertainment and hard-news. It’s an interesting argument unfortunately told by someone who has no idea what makes good television. Underlying this is an interesting psychological analysis of misplaced father issues – yeah, I got rather bored with the materialistic story and started looking for things that probably aren’t there. What I mean by that is that Becky’s drive appears to stem from a need to impress her dead father, unable to replace him with flimsy relationships that she sabotages in favour of her surrogate child (the show), which provides her all the distraction she needs to ensure she never achieves significant goals in her life. This rather random theory is supported by the fact that the sexual relationship between Becky and Adam [Wilson] is very loosely covered, while the father/daughter dynamic between Becky/Pomeroy and Becky/Lenny pulls centre focus. But I digress, on to the negative.

For the few saving graces, there is a wealth of substantial flaws that eat away at the film as a whole. The whole career woman storyline is completely derivative; I realise this is your typical genre flick and therefore it adopts a paint-by-numbers approach to the life of a working woman but that’s no excuse to just ‘make do.’ The film is littered with trite moments that scream “I want the job and the cute guy and the responsibility and to be taken seriously and live in the big city and eat salad and have fun and make everyone happy and make my mum proud and and and” and SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU WHINEY TEENAGER! On top of this, there’s absolutely no real insight into working in television (better examples include 30 Rock, Studio 60 and The Day Today . . sort of), it’s just a busy backdrop for the screenwriter to drop their neurotic little creation into, like a Deinonychus running loose in a primary school . . . I guess.

There are enough decent moments and entertaining exchanges to get you through it but ultimately, the whole thing is rather forgettable. I’m sure it’ll break even but there’s no way this film will do anywhere near the kind of business it could hope to. Most depressing of all is the fact that this project was helmed by Roger Michell, director of Notting Hill, Changing Lanes and Venus; three very different but rather well-crafted films. The only statement left to use is ‘disappointing.’

Release Date:
21st January 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Yarr.. there be spoilers ahead – I’m being a pirate, yarr!**
Two points here, the first being a nasty little montage, suited only in deeply satirical work. Becky has been offered a job working for The Today Show and whilst weighing up whether or not to meet with NBC, she surveys her current working environment. Cue familial slow-motion shots with people laughing, slapping backs happily, throwing scrunched-up paper balls playfully before cutting back to Becky, who inhales deeply and makes a difficult choice. Fucking awful. Written by the kind of person who thinks that high school was exactly the same, rather than the box of torture and homework that it actually was. Erghh. Second to that is the ending which just.. depressed the shit out of me. Basically, Ford loses. He single-handedly saves the show by delivering a real, cutting edge story but still hates the cutesy bullshit that he’s expected to do. Then, in some change of heart, he starts cooking a bloody frittata on air, to show that he has a human side. How miserable an ending is that? One that says moody intellectual types must give in to sprightly, upbeat, petulant brats?

Notable Characters:
I should be talking about how perfectly fitted Ford is to the cantankerous old bastard role or how easily Keaton slips into her character’s shoes . . but everyone else is doing that. Instead, I would like to highlight Rachel McAdam’s character – largely because she annoyed the piss out of me, despite the decent acting. I’m sure words like perky, driven, passionate and determined are being batted around other reviews but I would prefer to use self-obsessed, irritating, manipulative, blind and ratings-whore. As stated, McAdams does a pretty good job and I’m not just shooting down the career woman because I’m some misogynistic thirties throwback, I genuinely believe Becky Fuller was a hollow, moronic creation with little to offer other than ‘what sells’. I swear, nothing is more infuriating than some jumped-up writer sitting down and penning “Oh, if I try my hardest and work every hour I can and stamp my feet, I’ll make this the best darned show in town, gosh howdy” only to climax it with, “And I did! Yey! Yey me! Aren’t I fucking wonderful!?” I’m simply amazed more people wouldn’t be insulted by that. This is a woman who is not only fishing for nothing but ratings but wholeheartedly believes that Diane Keaton rapping with 50 Cent is good television and a close-up of her kissing a frog is so hilarious that it requires a second attempt. These are the kind of idiots that are filling contemporary television with mounds of steaming shit.

Highlighted Quote:
“The argument between news and entertainment went on for years and guess what, your side lost!”

In A Few Words:
“Mediocre cinema held together by fairly affable characters portrayed by more than capable actors”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #39

[16 January 2011]

Winning Team:
The King’s Speech

Genre – A harrowing 18th Century medical drama

Runners Up:
There Can Be Only One . . Quiz Winner
Genre – Reality drama
The Centipede Millipede
Genre – A Dreamworks/SKG animated love story
The Three Musketeers
Genre – Dance trip-hop
Genre – Immortals in Norwich
Saving Ryan’s Privates
Genre – Medical drama
A View To A Kilt
Genre – Highlander meets James Bond
The Trons: Team, Really Only Novices
Genre – Sci-Fi

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Alexander details the life of which historical figure? (bonus point for naming the actor who played the lead role)
2. The Last King Of Scotland is set in which country?
AFRICA (specifically Uganda)
3. Which of the following films starred Kevin Spacey? American Psycho? American Beauty? American History X?
4. How many Batman movies (excl. Adam West) were made before the 2006 reboot?
5. Who plays, William, the squire posing as a knight in A Knight’s Tale?
6. How many girls make up the social group known as ‘the plastics’ (excl. Lindsay Lohan) in Mean Girls?
7. Which actor starred in Fever Pitch, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Dorian Gray?
8. What are the Coen brothers’ first names? (one point per correct answer)
9. Sean Connery was the first James Bond, where does Pierce Brosnan appear in the running order? (i.e. third, fourth, fifth, etc)
10. Poster Tagline: Part I – Which Star Wars film features the following poster tagline, “The adventure continues”?
11. Who directed Mystic River, The Bridges Of Madison County and Pale Rider?
12. The author of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas makes a cameo in the film adaptation. What is his name?

ROUND II: Filming [Highlander Special]
1. What are the race of immortals known as in Highlander?
2. Who plays the lead role of Connor MacLeod?
3. What colour is the handle of Ramirez’s katana?
4. What year was Highlander released?
5. Which band (after viewing footage of the film) contributed several songs, despite only being contracted to do one?
6. How many sequels did Highlander spawn?
FOUR (The Quickening / The Final Dimension / Endgame / The Source)
7. Which character says, “Crude and slow, clansman; your attack was no better than that of a clumsy child”?
8. What is the name of Connor’s adopted daughter?
9. What year was the brandy bottled? (point to closest answer)
10. What is the name of the rival clan that the MacLeod clan fight in the opening of the film?
11. The opening wrestling scene was originally intended to be which other sport?
12. This was the first film in which Christopher Lambert was expected to say more than a few words in English. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What is the first line of narration in Goodfellas? (one point if close, two if spot on)
2. What is the name of the book that Miles is trying to publish in Sideways?
3. In the film Parenthood, which actor ends up dressing as a cowboy, for a birthday party, when the hired professional fails to show?
4. What was the name of the stop-motion segment in 1988’s Moonwalker?
5. In Back To The Future, the time machine requires a nuclear reaction to generate how many gigawatts of electricity?
6. Which film features the following quote, “I believe in two things, discipline and the bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord, your ass belongs to me”?
7. The Daily Telegraph wrote the following quote about which film? “[title] may not provide any satisfactory answers as to how a 23 year old medical student went on to become arguably the most famous revolutionary of the latter half of the 20th Century but it has an undeniable charm”
8. Which four actors play the roles of the untouchables in the film of the same name? (one point per correct answer)
9. Poster Tagline: Part II – “Collide with destiny”?
10. What year was Pan’s Labyrinth released?
11. Who played the title roles in 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde? (one point per correct answer)
12. What was the title of the only film to star both Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which Egyptian god is not seen/mentioned in Stargate? Horus? Anubis? Seth?
2. Peter Parker is the name of which superhero? Superman? Spiderman? Batman?
3. How many times is the story repeated (with different outcomes) in Run, Lola, Run? Two? Three? Four?
4. Mr. Nanny featured which WWF wrestler? Hulk Hogan? The Rock? Stone Cold Steve Austin?
5. Which of the following titles is not a Woody Allen film? Seen From The Shadows? Sweet And Lowdown? Take The Money And Run?
6. What does James (played by John Travolta) do to earn a living when he meets Mollie in Look Who’s Talking? Waits tables? Drives a cab? Sells drugs?
7. Poster Tagline: Part III – “They keep coming back in a bloodthirsty lust for human flesh”? Night Of The Living Dead? Dawn Of The Dead? Day Of The Dead?
8. What was the name of the academy award winning short film that Martin McDonagh wrote and directed before In Bruges? The Lonesome Queen? Six Shooter? Skulls On Pillows?
9. Which of the following was not listed in the Prince Ali song in Aladdin? Fifty three golden peacocks? Ninety five white Persian monkeys? Sixty elephants?
10. Which of the following actors has not played Hamlet on-screen? Joseph Fiennes? Orson Welles? Ethan Hawke?
11. Which Jamiroquai song does Napoleon Dynamite famously dance to in the film of the same name? Deeper Underground? Canned Heat? Virtual Insanity?
12. During an interview for Good Morning, America, Terry Gilliam was asked if he was having trouble with the studio upon completion of Brazil. Gilliam responded, “No, I’m having a problem with Sid Sheinberg. Here’s an 8×10 picture of him” and held up his photo on national television. True or False?
TRUE (Sheinberg was the studio head blocking the release of Brazil)



Darren Aronofsky

Natalie Portman
Mila Kunis
Vincent Cassel
Barbara Hershey
Winona Ryder

There was a long white flash, followed by a brief credit sequence and then I was in the street, walking the dark misty roads of Norwich, desperately trying to convey the profound effect this film had on me; somehow speechless but unable to stop talking. I have always held the greatest respect for Darren Aronofsky, truly believing that he is simply incapable of making anything other than exceptional, stellar cinema. Black Swan not only confirms this but literally drives me to sheer frustration through gritted teeth, knowing that there are filmmakers who produce inferior works, for the sole purpose of turning a profit, when they could be striving for this level of brilliance.

Natalie Portman portrays the young, hard-working professional ballerina, Nina Sayers. After a recent shuffle that saw the retiring of the company’s prima ballerina, Beth Macintyre [Ryder], Nina auditions for the lead role in Thomas Leroy’s [Cassel] rendition of Swan Lake. It is quickly made apparent that as driven and dedicated as Nina may be, she is unable to portray anything other than the pure, innocent white swan, whereas the part requires her to also embody the seductive black swan. Things are complicated further by the arrival of a new corps girl, in the form of the undisciplined, headstrong Lilly [Kunis]. Life at home is no different, every waking hour seems ballet orientated, driven by Nina’s overbearing mother, a former ballerina who was forced to leave the art after falling pregnant, played captivatingly by Barbara Hershey. As Nina continues to rehearse and explore the dark nature of the black swan character, she becomes increasingly convinced that Lilly is trying to replace her, that her mother is stifling her and the looming fear that she will one day become as bitter and twisted as her idol, Beth Macintyre.

Aronofsky has an incredible ability and every work to date is a prime example of a filmmaker’s film, ripe for analysis. Beautiful narratives, soaring emotions, crippling logic, gorgeous scores, career-best performances, heart-wrenching truths, entrancing visuals, deeply meaningful issues, these are the grounds that Aronofsky continually treads with grace and precision, ensuring each film heavily calls upon these elements with as much necessity as simple factors, such as scripting, lighting, etc. Once again bringing on Clint Mansell, Black Swan is treated to an atypically brilliant score, warping and morphing elements of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake into something darker yet astoundingly beautiful. That is, of course, without even addressing the phenomenal audio production. To add to the subliminal levels of suggestion, every scene is carefully treated with audio tweaks, raising the tension and embedding avian notes – most notably the sound of wings fluttering during various motional transitions.

Adding to this building tension is the distinct hand-held filming style – which ensures that the camera is in a state of continual motion, creating overall unease – and the extraordinary use of subtle visual effects. A true testament to wondrous special effects are those you do not realise were even there and Black Swan is littered with them; ranging from alternate reflections in mirrors, morphing faces, moving paintings and one of the finest on-screen metamorphoses I’ve ever witnessed. And as the film progresses you become more and more aware that absolutely every single aspect of this film has been carefully and methodically deliberated over; long, dark corridors, walls coated in mirrors, strategically placed stuffed toys and heavy use of blacks and whites. But these are all simply the technical aspects that I appreciate; the film really proves itself to be a true work of genius when you examine the underlying subtexts and psychological levels. Upon further analysis this film is deeply layered, drawing on obsession, competition, repression, confrontation, self destruction, desperate aspiration, paranoia, dedication, guilt, mania, rivalry and most surprisingly, sexual abuse. I could happily write an entire thesis on this film from a psychoanalytical point of view but that’s not really what this site is for.

Already one of the finest films of 2011, certainly the high-point of Natalie Portman’s career and further cementing Aronofsky’s place as one of the finest filmmakers living today, Black Swan is sublime.

Release Date:
21st January 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Subtle spoiler moments within**
Exploring her darker side, Nina rebels against her mother and decides to go out with Lilly. After dancing, drinking, sampling drugs and engaging in random sexual encounters, Nina returns home worse-for-wear with Lilly in tow. After confronting her mother, Nina locks herself in her room. But that’s not the bit I’m focusing on. The subtle nods that I adored surfaced during Nina’s talk with her mother, drunk and giggling; primarily for the fact that her words were mouthed by the strategically placed Lilly, watching from the corner before relocating behind Nina, staring out through her hair. The implications are .. for lack of a better word .. glorious. Either that or any part of Nina’s breakdown and final show; if only for the fact that I became aware that Aronofsky wasn’t going to let up and the audience was going to fully follow Nina’s story or suffer a heart-attack.

Notable Characters:
As stated, this is a career best for Natalie Portman. She’s always demonstrated immense talent but this is just above and beyond. Furthermore, each supporting character is handled amazingly well, living up to their namesake and truly supporting every aspect of Portman’s performance.

Highlighted Quote:
“The new production needs a new swan queen; a fresh face to present to the world. But which of you can embody both swans? The white and the black”

In A Few Words:
“As with every Aronofsky film, this is a work of heart-breaking beauty and agonising tension. Quite simply one of the most breath-taking and emotionally draining pieces of his repertoire”

Total Score:



Taking Adventure To New Lengths

Nathan Greno
Byron Howard

Mandy Moore
Zachary Levi
Donna Murphy

Around this time last year I reviewed The Princess And The Frog, Disney’s attempt to reclaim their place in the animated film market. I didn’t much care for it. It was a fairly enjoyable romp but they tripped over the classic Disney mistakes of subtle racism, stupid over-use of highly forgettable songs, ridiculous talking animals, etc. Having seen the trailers for Tangled, Disney’s take on Rapunzel and their 50th animated motion picture, my expectations were rather low. Thankfully, someone appears to have delivered the right message to the right people and for the first time since the 1990’s Disney have produced a lush, beautiful and exceptionally entertaining family film.

Setting the scene in typical Disney fashion, Flynn Rider [Levi] opens with a brief narration about a golden flower with magical healing properties that can replenish ones’ life when sung to. An old woman, Mother Gothel [Murphy], found the flower and selfishly kept it hidden, only using it for herself. Over the decades a kingdom rose in the area and after a time, the pregnant queen became ill. After a great search for the flower was undertaken, it was eventually located and fed to the queen. Subsequently she made a full recovery and gave birth to a baby girl, Rapunzel [Moore]. Seeking revenge, Mother Gothel seized the child and locked her in a high tower, visiting her only to renew her youthful appearance by singing the same song she sang to the flower. Forlorn and grief stricken over the loss of their daughter, the king and queen launched thousands of glowing lanterns each year on her birthday. Some fifteen years later, swashbuckling rogue and thief, Flynn takes part in a grand larceny before being chased by the palace guards. After evading his pursuers, he scales a solitary tower and hides himself, only to be assaulted by Rapunzel. Having been forbidden by her mother to ever leave the tower and fascinated by the glowing lights in the sky each year on her birthday, Rapunzel makes a deal with Flynn that she will return the item she stole from him if he agrees to take her to the lights and back. Naturally, Flynn agrees and off they set to the palace to witness the yearly festival, all the while followed by the covetous Mother Gothel.

Disney have had a rough track record of hits and misses and with Pixar failing to produce a bad film, they simply have to create more fine work of this calibre. It’s as if a check list of everything people love and hate about Disney has been created and keenly followed in order to produce something appealing to all ages: dashing hero, trapped princess, comical animal characters (that DO NOT talk), upbeat songs but not too many or too long, swashbuckling adventure, peril, danger, humour, romance, etc. both modern and traditional, it walks that fine line of decent family cinema. The 3D element was far from necessary (it’s a bloody gimmick that deserves to die a long and slow death!) but also in no way overbearing, merely adding depth to the canvas, as opposed to a gratuitous opportunity to fling things at the audience. Despite the impressive CGI, the pleasant script-work, extremely endearing characters and keenly crafted pace, there are still glaring flaws; the first being the songs. There are only fifteen Disney songs that I think are not only memorable but actually well composed, the rest is just fodder – and yet every Disney release has to contain at least five original songs. The ones used here weren’t nearly as bad as they could have been and at one point a musical dance routine was favoured over an actual song but if they’re going to bother they really need to craft something epic and original. Secondly we have the villain, Mother Gothel. She’s in no way evil, just incredibly selfish, which should make her a more realistic ‘bad guy’ but ultimately she just lacks the screen presence of past Disney villains.

Overall, this is a real return to form for Disney and if they can continue to raise the bar, they will be well on their way to producing quality work once more.

Release Date:
28th January 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
Shortly after Rapunzel’s first trip outside the tower (and the obligatory song, prattling on about it), Rapunzel has bi-polar moments of extreme joy and crushing depression. The scale of the indecisive escapee’s back-and-forth and the way in which it’s edited is such that it produces an incredibly amusing and memorable little scene. Either that or the festival of lights thingy.. simply for the fact that it’s visually gorgeous – far from groundbreaking but certainly easy on the eyes.

Notable Characters:
It’s rather hard to pick just one character. Rapunzel herself demonstrates immense naivety neatly combined with a feisty curiosity – much like The Little Mermaid’s Ariel. The two creature characters are also welcome additions, despite the fact that I turned around in the cinema and muttered, “Why the hell does she have a chameleon? How does that fit in?” Both Maximus and Pascal should be cliché and irritating but their antics are incredibly entertaining. But ultimately, Zachary Levi channelling Nathan Fillion is one of the highlights. If you have no idea who I’m talking about, Flynn is pretty much the embodiment of a rather talented TV actor (more aptly a combination between Fillion and Errol Flynn).

Highlighted Quote:
“Hey, can I ask you something? Is there any chance I’m going to get super strength in my hand? Because – I’m not going to lie – that would be stupendous”

In A Few Words:
“Charming, humorous, romantic and thoroughly entertaining, Tangled is a wonderful rebirth for Disney’s animation studios”

Total Score:



Be Heard

Tom Hooper

Colin Firth
Helena Bonham Carter
Geoffrey Rush

I don’t like using the words ‘perfect film’, I try my utmost never to print or say them. In truth, there is no such thing as a perfect film. I will agree that a perfect cinematic experience, flawless film-making, exceptional acting, etc. are adequate notes of praise but if the perfect film were created, we would have no need to attempt another. So, what is The King’s Speech, then? Well, I want to say it’s the aforementioned phrase but as I am physically incapable, I will simply state that it is an exemplary example of cinema and a truly glorious release.

Originally written as a play, this is the story of Prince Albert (later King George VI) [Firth] and his attempts to overcome his speech impediment before reluctantly taking the throne of Great Britain. The film opens with a comparative shot of a professionally trained broadcaster going through his routine – including such acts as gargling whiskey – and Prince Albert failing to deliver the closing speech of the Empire Exhibition, in front of thousands of unsettled and disappointed subjects. Albert takes some comfort knowing that his brother David [Guy Pearce] is next in line for the throne and subsequently, his speech difficulties will never be a matter of national concern. Despite this, his wife, Elizabeth [Bonham-Carter] wishing to aid her husband in any way she can, contacts various speech therapists. Having consulted many respected officials, Elizabeth pursues the highly unconventional Australian, Lionel Logue [Rush], who agrees to treat Albert, provided his methods are not questioned. After an initial meeting, Albert becomes incredibly frustrated by the prying questions and Logue’s manner and storms out. Having listened to a recording made by Logue, of Albert speaking without hesitation or stuttering, the sessions resume. Adding complication to the matter, David and Albert’s father, King George V [Michael Gambon] passes away and David inherits the throne – a fact which Parliament will not support, due to his pursuit of a twice-divorced American. With war in Europe approaching and general support for Albert to replace his brother, pressure mounts and Logue’s efforts must double in order to aid the king in his first live war-time broadcast.

As stated, this film was originally written as a play and with so few locations and supporting characters, it really shows. Subsequently, the strong focus on the characters and their relationships provides ample opportunity for Firth, Rush and Bonham-Carter to really demonstrate something extraordinarily memorable and endearing. Despite being hired to simply ‘cure’ the Prince-cum-King, Logue acts more as personal councillor and therapist; as such we are offered a look into the claustrophobic world of royal society in the 1930’s and the cruel rebranding and sometimes medieval methods to retrain those who were different. In addition to the fine performances, the technical aspects are equally astounding. Tom Hooper has utilised his signature look (used so beautifully in John Adams) to create a very unique style to what could have easily been batted off as a standard period drama.

Brilliantly paced, whilst exploring the surface of the three lead characters, the only complaint I could possibly raise – were I forced to – would be the limitations placed on the supporting roles by the scripts’ format. I personally believe that adopting a theatrically styled script yields better results when put to cinema, then one written specifically for the screen – if only for the fact that I relish long, drawn-out confrontational monologues in the hands of noteworthy actors. On the downside, we lose a lot of backstory and exposition, other than that of instances reported by the leads. Excluding that, this movie is without a doubt one of this year’s finest and certainly the best of British cinema in a long time.

Release Date:
7th January 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
Of the many memorable scenes, one that seemed to stand out to me was the crippling effect Albert’s impediment had on his family life. The fact that his short bedtime story for his two daughters is drawn-out and often interrupted, greatly affects the family, despite his overwhelming feelings for them all. A fact made equally morose by his daughters’ change in greeting once he is crowned king. All very simple but effective.

Notable Characters:
To isolate the performance of one of the three key leads, would greatly do disservice to the others, simply because they genuinely require one another; without one bringing their a-game, the film would be flat. Firth’s performance as Prince Albert is one of a troubled father and a frustrated individual of great responsibility. Almost instantaneously (largely due to the Empire Exhibition scene) audiences pledge their allegiance to him and exude infinite sympathy. Helena Bonham-Carter as the ever-supportive wife, crushed by her husband’s inabilities and frustrations is equally heart-breaking and certainly one of the high-points in her career. Finally, Geoffrey Rush’s presence as the plain speaking common-man adds much needed humour and immense heart to the entire proceedings. Each performance is spellbinding and worthy of the highest accolades this industry has to offer.

Highlighted Quote:
“My castle, my rules”

In A Few Words:
“A stunning, beautiful, evocative, charming and wholly delightful affair”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #38

[02 January 2011]

Winning Team:
The Misfits

Genre – A Marilyn Monroe superhero film

Runners Up:
Black Swan Dive
Genre – Tense psychological thriller about synchronised swimmers
Point Break Wind
Genre – (f)Arthouse
There Won’t Be Blood
Genre – A musical reimagining of My Fair Lady
The Lion King’s Speech
Genre – Animated royal drama

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What was the title of the first film in the Police Academy series?
2. Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness are sequels to which film?
3. What is Ferris taking a day off from in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Work? School? Community Service?
4. Which actor starred in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Pale Rider and The Outlaw Josey Wales?
5. Which Disney film tells the story of inventor, Wayne Szalinski, who builds a device capable of shrinking objects, including his family? [bonus point for naming the sequel]
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS [Honey, I Blew Up The Kid]
6. Complete the following title of this 1951 film: A Streetcar Named.
7. Days Of Thunder focuses on which type of racing past-time? Horses? Dogs? Cars?
8. What device did Bill and Ted use to travel through time in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures? [bonus point for correctly naming the conduits they travel through]
PHONE BOOTH [The Circuits Of History]
9. Who starred in the lead role in 1989’s Henry V?
10. Who directed The Bridge On The River Kwai?
11. The Man In The Iron Mask tells the story of the corrupt king of which country?
12. Throughout the film Edward Scissorhands sculpts with three mediums. One point for each named.

ROUND II: Filming [1994]
1. Ed Wood is the biopic of which 50’s director?
2. Interview With The Vampire is based on the novel of the same name by which author?
3. Which actor plays terrorist, Howard Payne, in Speed?
4. Who directed Quiz Show?
5. Which actors portray Alex, David and Juliet in Shallow Grave? (one point per correct answer)
6. What did Butch inherit from his father in Pulp Fiction?
7. How many thugs make up the gang that attacked Eric Draven and Shelly Webster in The Crow?
FOUR (T-Bird / Tin Tin / Funboy / Skank)
8. What is the name of Carlito’s nightclub in Carlito’s Way? The Riviera? Club Paradise? After Hours?
9. 1994 saw the release of the first British film to top the US Box Office charts since A Fish Called Wanda. What was its title?
10. The live-action version of The Flintstones was on the books at Universal since the mid-seventies but the 1994 version would not have been made at all, if which member of the cast turned down their role?
11. What is the name of the counter-terrorist task force that Harry Tasker works for in True Lies?
12. Many of the crowd scenes in Stargate feature mannequins as they were cheaper than extras. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What is Indiana Jones’ middle name?
2. When Jean turns up with his wife and daughter, in Jean de Florette, he states his intentions to make the farm profitable in two years, breeding what animal?
3. While the word mafia is never said in The Godfather, how many times is it used in The Godfather: Part II?
4. Who plays the bounty hunter, Jellon Lamb in The Proposition?
5. Five product placements are referenced in one scene in Wayne’s World. Name them. (one point per correct answer)
6. Which two Australian musicians wrote the score for The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford? (one point per correct answer)
7. Nimród Antal’s Hungarian film Kontroll takes place on which mode of transport?
8. Despite the fact Kevin Spacey’s character is often referred to as Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects, what is his first name?
9. Which 40’s film featured the quote, “Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t, why should we? They talk about the people and proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs – it’s the same thing”?
10. What was the name of the program that escapes the lightcycle grid with Tron and Flynn, in Tron?
11. John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 is largely inspired by which western?
12. To date, only five actors have won an academy award for a role primarily in a language other than English. Name them. (one point per correct answer)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. In what year did Orson Welles direct and star in the film adaptation of Macbeth? 1946? 1947? 1948?
2. The titles All Together With Passion (Italy), Happy Days (Turkey) and The Rebel Novice (Brazil) were all used internationally for which Robert Wise release? West Side Story? Star? The Sound Of Music?
3. Who was the first to die in The Thing? Bennings? Cooper? Windows?
4. Who played the invisible man in the 1933 film of the same name? Colin Clive? Claude Rains? Lon Chaney?
5. What crippled Rizzo’s leg in Midnight Cowboy? Polio? Hit by car? Cancer?
6. Which is the only Sergio Leone directed film released without a score composed by Ennio Morricone? A Fistful Of Dynamite? Once Upon A Time In America? The Colossus Of Rhodes?
7. What is the correct wording of Blain’s quote in Predator? Got no time to bleed? Ain’t got time to bleed? Ain’t got no time to bleed?
8. The opening and closing narration of Zulu is read by which actor? Richard Burton? Peter O’Toole? Charlton Heston?
9. ‘Inside everyone is a frontier waiting to be discovered’ is the poster tagline for which film? The Cell? Dances With Wolves? Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?
10. What is the name of the dog in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Rover? Jack? Max?
11. What is the last line of The Day The Earth Stood Still? The decision rests with you? We shall be waiting for your answer? Your choice is simple?
12. After a prolonged legal battle between Renee Zellwegger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it was decided by coin-toss who would receive top billing on the posters for Chicago. True or False?
FALSE (in the end, no one could agree, so a diagonal billing was created – if read from left-to-right, Zeta-Jones was top, if read top-to-bottom, Zellwegger was top)


Lose Who You Are To Save What You Love

Paul Haggis

Russell Crowe
Elizabeth Banks
Olivia Wilde
Liam Neeson

It didn’t dawn on me until just now that The Next Three Days is in fact a remake. In retrospect I should have picked up on the great deal of similarities between this effort and the original but I simply dismissed them as little more than that. Pour Elle was released only two years ago and was a fantastically engrossing French thriller about the lengths one man will go to save the woman he loves; wonderfully acted and decently presented, it was a very entertaining release. The problem seems to be I’m not entirely sure what to think of it in Paul Haggis’ hands. Granted, it’s solid, reasonably well-paced and adequately shot, this is a pleasing release but (as with ninety per cent of remakes) when compared with the original, it falls flat.

The film opens with the arrest of Lara Brennan [Banks], who has been accused of murdering her employer after a heated argument. The film jumps ahead a little and we learn that the evidence is considerable and Lara will more than likely serve her entire twenty year sentence; a fact which her husband, John [Crowe], cannot live with. As the lawyers refuse to send his appeals and all hope seems lost, John starts to devise a plan to break his wife out of prison – for the good of their son . . or something like that. Being an English teacher, his knowledge of such extensive criminal acts is limited, and as such John must consult with ex-convict and multiple escapee, Damon Pennington [Neeson]. Learning what he can, John sets out his entire plan on a wall in his home, trying to figure out the best means of escape, how long it will take, where to go after that and most importantly, how to drum up the money to finance the whole operation. Realistically, the majority of John’s investigations take a turn for the worst but with his wife attempting suicide and a prison transfer in place, Brennan has little choice but to act.

Being a film critic, I’ve seen a fair few prison break flicks, I’m quite the fan of the Fox TV series, Prison Break and I’ve seen the source material this film is based on – subsequently, I’m not in the best place to review this film because I have seen this plot laid out better in the past. The film rests heavily on Crowe’s performance and his actions, with the primary drive being a man devoted to his wife. Now, unlike other critics, I actually believed the whole Banks/Crowe on-screen relationship. I also liked the fact that Crowe’s ego didn’t get in the way and at no point did I believe his character would actually succeed (that’s not a spoiler, I’m not saying he does or doesn’t), he just doesn’t appear to be up to the task. Finally, there’s a fair amount of tension that builds (oh-so-very slowly) during each foray into the criminal world. But that’s it, the rest is very shaky.

First thing that threw me was a lack of a title card. I’m not saying it’s needed and in some places it can be very well placed, here it just felt absent. Then there’s the Pittsburgh police who mount their investigation into a series of seemingly unrelated crimes with little consistency. At times they are one step ahead of John, more than able to foil his crudely assembled plan and other times they seem completely bewildered as to what he’s going to do next — I realise that on paper that sounds like an accurate depiction of police work but something about the execution felt incredibly off. The score also needs a mention for its positive and negative elements; Danny Elman has produced a favourable and fitting effort but it’s largely forgettable and often retires quietly into the background – usually a sign of a composer in need of a paycheque. But the biggest flaw is the sheer lack of repercussion. I’m not going to give anything away but there is a distinct lack of ‘oh my God, what have I become’ moments, that would have humanised the character and added a little more credibility to the story.

Without prior knowledge of the original or a history of watching prison break materials, this film could have been more than entertaining. It could have been tense, gripping, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable. Instead, it’s pale and a little hollow. By all means, give this movie a go but don’t expect too much if you’ve seen similar plot threads before.

Release Date:
7th January 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Massive spoiler moments within**
So, to detail the issue I have with Paul Haggis’ scriptwriting and direction: Granted, over the years he’s produced examples of quality cinema but without supervision he has a tendency to interject too many cliché elements and water-tight moral standpoints. A good example would be the criminal who sells the fake passport, driver’s licence and other documents to John – but he’s alright and won’t screw over John because he’s a deaf criminal . . . aww. Won’t be any repercussions there ’cause he’s deaf . . . aww. Also, it is eventually shown that John’s wife is innocent but in order to acquire the money he needs, John breaks into a drug dealer’s house (cum meth lab), shoots him and takes his money. Yes, yes, he was a drug dealer and he had it coming and it was all in self-defence, blah blah. None of that negates the fact that in trying to boost his wife from jail for a murder she did not commit, he becomes a murderer. Does he worry about it later? Nope, dude was a drug dealer. Fuck him. If he’d been deaf it would have been a completely different story.

Notable Characters:
As stated, Russell Crowe contains himself neatly within this role but it’s the supporting faces that seem to resonate the most. In particular, Neeson’s portrayal of the ex-con, Pennington, John’s almost mute father, played by Brian Dennehy and Lennie James as Lieutenant Nabulsi all deserve a mention.

Highlighted Quote:
“You want this too much, you’re going to fuck it up”

In A Few Words:
“Fairly decent thriller that only truly falls apart when compared with others in its niche genre”

Total Score:


Reviews 2011

[23 December 2011] Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

[14 December 2011] Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)

[13 December 2011] The Artist (2011)

[01 December 2011] Hugo (2011)

[21 November 2011] 50/50 (2011)

[17 November 2011] Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part I (2011)

[10 November 2011] Immortals (2011)

[24 October 2011] The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)

[23 October 2011] The Ides Of March (2011)

[22 September 2011] Drive (2011)

[18 September 2011] Warrior (2011)

[15 September 2011] Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

[11 September 2011] Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

[22 August 2011] Conan The Barbarian (2011)

[15 August 2011] Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

[10 August 2011] Rise of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)

[03 August 2011] Super 8 (2011)

[25 July 2011] Captain America (2011)

[12 July 2011] Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011)

[20 June 2011] Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)

[20 June 2011] Bridesmaids (2011)

[15 June 2011] Green Lantern (2011)

[30 May 2011] Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

[29 May 2011] X-Men: First Class (2011)

[15 May 2011] Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

[09 May 2011] Attack The Block (2011)

[26 April 2011] Water For Elephants (2011)

[21 April 2011] Thor (2011)

[12 April 2011] Scre4m (2011)

[10 April 2011] Super (2010)

[31 March 2011] Sucker Punch (2011)

[27 February 2011] Rango (2011)

[18 February 2011] West Is West (2010)

[02 February 2011] True Grit (2010)

[17 January 2011] Morning Glory (2010)

[10 January 2011] Black Swan (2010)

[09 January 2011] Tangled (2010)

[03 January 2011] The King’s Speech (2010)

[02 January 2011] The Next Three Days (2010)