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A few reviews
Early Man (2018)
Nick Park and Aardman's latest stop-motion Comedy, about a Stone-Age tribe challenging Bronze-Age invaders to a Football match. From the premise and trailer I was hoping for Asterix-level history-based humour but there is little of that, mostly it's jokes about Footballing culture... but I happen to hate Football. Lampooning the narrative tropes of generic sports-films, is unfortunately almost the same as making a generic and formulaic sports-film. Certainly not the best Aardman film so far but not without it's comedy moments. The main character's non-verbal pet Wild-Boar 'Hognob' had me laughing my arse off every second he was on screen.

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Die Hard (1988)
A 30th Anniversary cinema release and my first time seeing this on the big screen (after countless views on TV over the years). I suspect the fact that 'Die Hard' is such an intensely enjoyable, satisfying and immersive action caper, sometimes obscures just what a masterpiece of film-making it is, on all technical levels.

Director John McTiernan develops character and plot through careful shot composition and camera movement. Michael Kamen subtle score is constantly weaving in touches of 'Ode to Joy' and Christmas instrumentation on an almost subliminal level, taking the listener on a journey toward the moments when these two motifs reach their climax. The studious dedication to mapping the geography of the location, the expert editing and the clarity of character is something you rarely see in frenetic shaky-cam action movies of today... Die Hard 5 for example!

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Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)
Fascinating yet flawed Documentary insight into the internal world of Kurt Cobain and how his life informed the lyrics and music of Nirvana. Visually exploring his diary entries was a valid idea, cutting up old movies and home videos to fit his audio tapes was a valid idea, animation was a valid idea too, talking-head interviews was an uninspired but viable idea as well... but they should have decided on one style, or perhaps mixed them up a lot more. It is somehow both too vague on biographical structure and yet not abstract enough to work fully as an introspective mood piece. Still, if you like Cobain's music, I'm sure this will give you a few new perspectives on it.

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I've been meaning to get my hands on this. I've heard it's the best Cobain documentary. I really just need to watch more documentaries.
Mega Man is best game.
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Aquaman:

I saw Aquaman today, and I have to be honest, it is the best DCEU film so far. It's fun, not dark and boring, and doesn't have a horrible third act like Wonder Woman. The acting is great, the CGI looks fantastic and you don't have to have watched any of the previous films to understand it (there's a reference or 2 to Justice League and that's it). 

Are there any problems? Yeah. Black Manta is kind of pointless. After his first scene in the submarine, he has no impact on the plot and is just there to provide a land-based action scene (and to set the sequel of course). There's a plot twist later in the movie that's really predictable and why are the general public skeptical about the existence of the atlanteans? They live in the same world where aliens exist! (which is also the problem that Marvel's Inhumans and Iron Fist had). 

But regardless, this movie proves that there is still life in the DCEU (technically the Worlds of DC), and I highly urge you to watch it!
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Arthur Christmas (2011)
Watching this totally wonderful Aardman classic every Christmas has become a tradition for me (as has crying at several points). It perfectly captures the feeling of Christmas in the small human details of the inter-generational family relationships but it's also a perfectly paced crazy adventure. Every inch is so stocking-stuffed with little gags that I was still spotting ones I'd missed in previous years. The logistics of how Santa would actually be able to do Christmas are all obsessively explained, making this perfect viewing for kids who are just at that age when they are starting to wonder "Could Santa really deliver presents to every kid in the world?". With a giant supersonic Thunderbirds sleigh... of course he can!

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Team Foxcatcher (2016)
Mountains of home video and interviews with all the people involved provide a strong basis for this absorbing Netflix Documentary about the infamous Foxcatcher case. It goes to show that the earlier 2014 Oscar-nominated and almost entirely fictionalised dramatic film 'Foxcatcher' could have stuck to the facts and still told a good story (not that I didn't enjoy that movie). Well done to the filmmaker's for their decision to reproduce the 4:3 videotape at the correct aspect-ratio. It's an irritation of mine when already low-resolution documentary footage is made worse by cropping it for modern 16:9 TVs.



Mary Poppins (1964)
'Mary Poppins' was somehow not something I really watched as a kid, so it never secured one of those nostalgic places in my heart. However, watching it this year, a couple of days before Christmas, while decorating the tree, I'm finally starting to feel the magic. There isn't a flake of snow, or a single jingle of sleigh-bells here but thematically it's 100% a Christmas movie. It's got that "bringing the fractured family back together" and "realising you have a wonderful life" thing that is central to all great Christmas films (and the original Dickens template).

On the blu-ray, the Technicolor images shine out of the screen with texture and vibrancy. There are a few shots mixing live-action, sets and gorgeous matte paintings that must be contenders for being some of the most artful and magical things ever shot. The entire cast is utterly charming and the songs are without exception, infectious and full of joy. To be picky... at 2-hours and 19-minutes it's too long and spends an inordinately long time in the middle not advancing the plot in any way. So it's going to depend on how much you are enjoying yourself, whether this matters. Considering how good the songs are, it probably doesn't matter a jot.

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(03-04-2018, 01:37 PM)bionicbob Wrote: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

[Image: murder-on-orient-express-1200-1200-675-6...20x380.jpg]

[...] An excellent new version of a classic tale, and I look forward to Branagh's next work, Murder on the Nile with great excited anticipation.

I also very much enjoyed it. What a stunning-looking movie! Though now that I've read one critic call it "Murder on the Polar Express", I'm not sure I'll be able to think of it any other way. Tongue  The plot, once fully revealed, is hopelessly silly, and there's a giant dangling loose end, namely:


Who was going to kill Poirot, and why? The Doctor is said to have intentionally only grazed his arm, but then attacks him, saying "Why are you still alive?!", implying someone else was going to off him, even though the original murder was pretty much justified.

Anyhow, And Then There Were None is the better story, with an excellent three-part adaptation available to stream online, but I too now look forward to Branagh's Murder on the Nile, projected to open October 2020.
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^ I still need to check that out but it would need to work very hard to top the John Malkovich Poirot that is currently airing on the BBC. I hope the last part doesn't disappoint.




The Green Mile (1999)
I hadn't seen this it came out and I felt it compared somewhat unfavourably to 'The Shawshank Redemption'. It doesn't really add up to much more than a simplistic Christ allegory, when it could have been something more ambiguous, or ambitious. Watching it again, I found it to be a beautifully crafted film, with real emotional power, even if the underlying flaws still remain.



Mowgli (2018)
It's not really fair to compare this to the recent Disney live-action Jungle Book... because that was rubbish and this is far superior. Andy Serkis goes for a much more red-in-tooth-and-claw adaptation and gets all his a-list acting mates from his other mo-cap films to provide an excellent voice cast. While it looks beautifully shot and strikes an artful balance between photo-realism and fantasy there are some moments of genuinely disturbing Horror (parents be warned).



It's a shame UK Netflix doesn't also have it in this Hindi dub (^ above) because the actors sound great and a little more authentic.
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(12-20-2018, 03:50 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Arthur Christmas (2011)
Watching this totally wonderful Aardman classic every Christmas has become a tradition for me (as has crying at several points). It perfectly captures the feeling of Christmas in the small human details of the inter-generational family relationships but it's also a perfectly paced crazy adventure. Every inch is so stocking-stuffed with little gags that I was still spotting ones I'd missed in previous years. The logistics of how Santa would actually be able to do Christmas are all obsessively explained, making this perfect viewing for kids who are just at that age when they are starting to wonder "Could Santa really deliver presents to every kid in the world?". With a giant supersonic Thunderbirds sleigh... of course he can!

We watched this for the first time this past weekend, and it was fantastic! We had no idea it even existed, but I grew up with Wallace and Gromit and was happy to try this movie out. Beautiful animation, heart-warming writing, and a great plot supported it through and through. Highly recommended, though now out of season I suppose!
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